PLUS After School Club
A story by PLUS (Forth Valley) Ltd.
PLUS provided a weekly After School Club 3 nights per week for young people with disabilities and additional support needs so they could socialise with their peers and have fun, while their parents get a break from their caring responsibilities.
What PLUS After School Club did
Over the last 18 months PLUS has expanded it’s After School Club provision to three days a week, a Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, along with school holiday outings. Young people come straight from school and are then collected by their parents/carers at 5.30pm. Each week a theme is set for the sessions, along with various activities and a snack, these suggestions have come directly from the young people through their weekly evaluation.
PLUS has recruited an Administrator and Coordinator to assist with the week to week running of the sessions but also with the development of the service. young people who attended After School Clubs at the time were involved in the recruitment and they were asked to create their own interview questions.
Following the interviews, the young people were asked to rank candidates and provide their thoughts on who they thought were best suited for the job.
A regular sessional play/youth worker team for each term was identified for After School Clubs through PLUS’ wider sessional team, this also included volunteers regularly assisting with the running of the sessions. These volunteers also included young adults with disabilities and additional support needs from our adult services.
Placement students studying education were also involved on a weekly basis from term to term, this provided them with experience of young people with disabilities but also experience of an out of school care setting which they have all been able to apply to future placements. During After School Club hours’ parents have spent this time with other siblings and undertaken simple day to day tasks such as going to the shops due to struggling to find time to do this.
Some parents have chosen to spend this time in each other’s company, providing peer support to one another and developing friendships of their own. Parents have reported that PLUS’ After School Club has brought back the idea of the ‘school gates’. Many of the parents do not experience this due to their children being provided with transport to and from school in taxis.
Since attending PLUS’ After School Club Daniel’s parents have spoken about not having to rush around anymore, a weekly ‘stress’ for them as a family has been relieved - “By coming along to PLUS’ After School Club I know Daniel is receiving the support he requires and the environment has been tailored to his needs. This reassures me as a parent. I also spend far less time rushing around, I am able to relax and spend quality time with my other children.”
James and Alex were among the first to attend PLUS’ After School Club they began to build a friendship at the club from the start and enjoyed each other’s company and ‘banter’ together. This was infectious and they helped the club to be a fun place to be for the other young people in attendance. In the meantime, their mums met each other at ‘pick up’ and, noticing the developing friendship, arranged to get together out with the club.
Both families are now very good friends. The families get together regularly and both mums say that they get a lot of support from one another. Sometimes they all go to the cinema, both mums sit a few seats back from James and Alex so they can have a little independence while sharing the experience.
Clare benefits from routine, and initially she found PLUS’ After School Club a change to her usual routine and found it difficult to leave her school taxi and enter the PLUS building. Each week Clare made progress and within a month Clare would enter the PLUS building with very little prompting or encouragement, however would chose to spend time alone with staff in a separate meeting room.
During this time support staff remained the same, providing Clare with continuity in support and for staff to get to know Clare, 6 months later Clare now enters the PLUS building, takes off her school bag and jacket and with staff support will seek out an activity she wishes to engage in, whether this be a jigsaw puzzle, play Wii or staff reading a book to her.
Clare will now interact with other young people in attendance, take part in activities with others and is comfortable with changes in staff. Clare’s mum has provided feedback to say “By having regular members of staff Clare is now comfortable in PLUS’ After School Club environment and the other young people in attendance. The fact that she now acknowledges other young people and allows them to take part in the same activities as her is amazing”.
Clare initially required 2:1 support to access After School Club due to a tendency to try and run away and issues in relation to entering the building. Now that Clare has settled into PLUS’ After School Club environment and got to know staff and the other young people in attendance her support level is under review to be able to further promote her independence.
What PLUS (Forth Valley) Ltd. has learnedThe main aim for this funding was to make PLUS’ After School Club a sustainable service over an 18 month period with a year’s funding from Better Breaks being stretched over this time. Prior to this funding weekly contributions for After School Club were £2.50 a week, however after conducting some further research amongst other local out of school care provisions it was highlighted that PLUS’ provision was extremely cheap, particular with the level of support being provided to each individual.
Various consultations were held with parents/carers in relation to weekly contributions and the sustainability of the service, these were not easy consultations as PLUS were not known to charge for their services prior to this. In May this year it was agreed with parents and carers that weekly subs would increase to £12 a week for those with close eye support (1:3) and for those requiring one to one support they would purchase the service hourly to ensure staffing costs were covered.
The service is now sustainable with a regular income to cover basic costs; however, this does not leave room for development or purchase of resources. The model of weekly contributions for sessions is hoped to be rolled out amongst other PLUS services. Young People's engagement and involvement continues to play a key part of After School Club young people are required to evaluate the sessions from week to week through various different methods, pictorial thumbs up and thumbs down, evaluation trees, PECS systems and floor books.
These have allowed young people to rate the activities for the afternoon but also highlight what they would like to see for the following week’s session. This type of engagement and involvement from young people has promoted young people's choices and control over the activities on offer and tailored the sessions around what young people want, their individual needs and personalised outcomes.
Previously PLUS’ After School Club was run in an inclusive manner in partnership with a local drop in Youth Centre, who unfortunately lost their funding in March 2013. It was hoped that opportunities within the local community could be explored to see whether a new inclusive provision could be created.
young people can be themselves without worrying what other children may think.