A story by ENABLE Scotland
This year, the Schools Out Project provided rite of passage adventures through weekly activities for 60 young people with learning disabilities in Fife and Cumbernauld enabling their parents/carers to enjoy time away from their caring role.
What Schools out did
In North Lanarkshire and Fife, we recruited 1 personal assistant, 4 peer volunteers and 5 carer volunteers. The young people were actively engaged in our recruitment process and they planned and prepared for the interview and were on the interview panel.
In Cumbernauld, we provided 5 hours of activities each week over 2 days for the young people. In Fife we provided 5 hours of activities each week over 1 day for the young people These activities enabled their parents/carers to use this time as they wished, to have a break or spend time with other siblings or family members.
The Schools Out project was marketed to existing young people and their parents/carers through direct mail shots, newsletters and direct contact. Young people were also encouraged to ‘bring a friend’. The project also contacted named persons, social workers, health visitors and family co-ordinators.
The activities provided through the Schools Out Project included planning and going on a day out, hosting and organising an event (party) getting ready for an event (make-up and grooming) drama workshops and support to join youth groups in their local area. While the young people were engaged in these planned activities, carers benefited from time to themselves.
The project worked closely with L and his mum to develop strategies he could use when he became anxious. A few weeks later mum was able to leave L to enjoy the project’s activities and have some quality time on her own. Mum used this time to take part in leisure activities which helped her wellbeing. Recent feed back from Mum: “Just to have a few hours to my self makes all the difference”.
What ENABLE Scotland has learnedThe funding enabled ENABLE Scotland to support families in Cumbernauld and Fife with young people with multiple support needs by providing fun, stimulating and life enhancing activities throughout the year. It also enabled the parents and carers to have valuable rest time away from their caring role.
The young people planned activities of their choice with friends and not support staff. This was particularly exciting for the young people as some of their planned activities they had never tried before! It was very rewarding for the project staff to hear how excited and positive the young people felt about taking part in activities with friends rather than support workers. The use of peer volunteers was one of the main benefits of the Schools Out Project. All of the young people and their carers positively commented that having the support of someone the same age as them made a big difference on how they felt about themselves.
One challenge we faced was supporting providers to realise the potential in each individual. The project worked closely with providers to identify the young people’s skills and this was welcomed by them. We attracted new carers, particularly those whose children have special needs, by offering a child centred service. The project did this by identifying each young person’s skills, talents, positive attributes and interests and then identified possible areas of support so that the young people could enjoy the project’s activities.