SHIP Holiday Club Respite
A story by Support Help and Integration in Perthshire (SCIO)
SHIP delivered holiday club activities in Perth for young people (0-18years) with complex support needs, which enabled parents/carers and siblings to take a break from their caring roles. The groups ran for 1 week in April, 6 weeks in Summer and 1 week April from 8.30 – 5.30pm.
What SHIP Holiday Club Respite did
S.H.I.P delivered holiday clubs for children with complex additional support needs. The holiday clubs ran for 1 week in April, 6 weeks in Summer (4 days a week) and 1 week October from 8.30 - 5.30 pm from Fairview School, Perth. Holiday club was a huge success, we supported 30 young people every day allowing parents some respite. The clubs offered children the opportunity to be included in activities such as sports, art, cooking, sensory activities, story times, music, therapies, parties, meeting animals and community visits (Sailing, local parks, trampolining, science centre, zoo, beach).
All the activities were planned with the children & families and were personalised to each child to ensure they were included, having fun and reaching their full potential. The school summer holidays were longer this year and families requested the summer club run for 6 weeks 4 days a week. They felt this gave them more respite over the very long holiday break, they were really worried about how they would cope over a 7 ½ week school break. Whilst their children were attending the groups it allowed them to relax, recoup and enjoy being with other siblings.
The children were supported by 8 staff and approx. 15 volunteers per day. We have a team of 15 staff and 90 volunteers in total. Before the project started the staff and volunteers complete mandatory training (child protection, moving and handling, administering medication, infection control, supporting challenging behaviour, Makaton, Epilepsy & diabetes training, P.E.Cs , Supporting a young person with Autism, Supporting a young person with ADHD) to ensure they have the knowledge and skills to fully support the children.
Completing this training gave the whole team a chance to build better relationships together and the confidence to deal with all situations that arise throughout clubs.
The highlight of the project was getting feedback from parents that they were managing to cope in their caring roles and spending time with their other siblings. They said that they felt their family lives were more stable and their young people were more relaxed because they had some structure and fun in the holidays.
What Support Help and Integration in Perthshire (SCIO) has learned
Partnership working to us that means working together with the young people, families, volunteers, staff, schools, local communities, social work, sporting facilities, NHS, other local charities, third sector family forums, funders to ensure we are providing meaningful support to families and young people.
We have an open-door policy and have learnt that by including everyone in the planning, running and evaluating process they feel more supported and involved. We are available to our families whenever they need us, this does not mean our normal working hours (9-5 pm), this is when they are ready, possibly when the kids have gone to bed! By doing this we have built strong and meaningful relationships with our partners supporting families when they most need it.
Project planning and budgeting, over the last few projects we have learnt how many staff and volunteers we require to provide the best service we can. This can be a challenge with budgeting as we rely heavily on volunteers. If we do not get the volunteer numbers we require we have to look at employing more staff, thus increasing the cost of the project. We are working hard at volunteer retention and engagement.
Our volunteer co-coordinator is there to support the volunteers through their day and ensure they have all the training they require to fully support the young people. We are working hard to ensure the volunteers are having as much fun as the young people they are supporting. The benefits of this are the volunteers are more willing to attend & participate and the young people also have more fun with their friends (project costs are also lowered).
Targeting families most in need of support, reaching out to and engaging with new families, we have worked really hard over the last few years to ensure that we are targeting those families most in need and ensuring that we can support them through holidays. We have regular contact with families throughout the year to build trusting relationships between us, the family and the young person. When a new family registers with SHIP with firstly meet with the young person and family to get to know them and tell them about what we do.
Together we book them into a session the family are encouraged to stay with the young person until they feel comfortable to leave. Some families have never had the opportunity to leave their children anywhere before and need to be confident they will be looked after well. We give regular updates throughout the day and call them after the session to get feedback. We have learnt from this processes that families and children are less anxious about using the service.
How Support Help and Integration in Perthshire (SCIO) has benefitted from the funding
Better Breaks funding has allowed SHIP to continue to support families in Perth and Kinross through school holidays. These clubs have been described by parents/carers as a ‘lifeline’ and without the support for Better breaks funding this would not have been possible. It has allowed families to feel more connected to each other and build a support network. With continued support we are building our knowledge and skills which is allowing us support more families within Perth and Kinross.
All 130 children will have enjoyed planned fun activities, made friends and accessed the local community.
SHIP have supported 136 young people throughout the project to be included in activities that they have helped plan. They have all participated fun activities such as sports, cooking, art, music, sensory games, dance and yoga with their friends. They have also enjoyed a programme of community visits every afternoon, these visits included sailing, local parks, Active kids, trampolining, fruit picking and animal centres.
'Having a safe, dependable and enjoyable place for my son to go to during school holiday times has been a fantastic help. Finding respite for a child with additional support needs is very hard to come by and without SHIP I would not be able to spend quality 1:1 time with my daughter or take time for me. One of my favourite activities I enjoyed when taking time for me was a Spa day. Bliss! My son loves swimming, baking, being outdoors, sensory play and calming activities all of which he has enjoyed when attending holiday club. Yoga was an activity my son spoke a lot about after one of his days at holiday club and this is something we now do together at home which is lovely and quite fun! There are very limited activities and clubs available for young people within disabilities so many thanks go to SHIP for all they offer and do. The main benefits for my son are, the feeling of inclusion, value and acceptance, a chance to take part in new experiences and make new friendships whilst being understood. This is something we have never found before. As a family the main benefits bring respite, a chance for us all to recharge and the chance to meet other families who have similar challenges within their daily life’s. Also, the change to build support networks and open up other opportunities. SHIP holiday club are very well run and organised. The staff including the leaders and young volunteers do an outstanding job always showing enthusiasm and understanding. The SHIP team are an inspiring group of people.'
The children and young people with disabilities will have experienced a wide variety of activities that will improve their life skills, social, emotional and physical well-being. Their parents/carers and siblings will report less stress towards their caring role
100% of families reported though, surveys, meeting and conversations have they felt less stress in their caring roles and their well-being improved. They stated that having a break allowed them to ‘have a break and engage with their other children and families, something that can be very hard to do when they are caring for someone with complex Additional Support Needs. "They also reported that they ‘were more relaxed knowing their children were in safe hands.’ All young people have experienced a wide range of experiences that have helped them to learn life skills(cooking, gardening, art, music, communication, transitioning between activities & places, managing behaviour) and social, emotional and physical well-being skills(sports, medication, yoga, taking turns, listening to others, making friends). These are leading to improved well-being for families, they are feeling less stressed and have more time to pursue hobbies. This has been evidenced by observations, conversations and surveys.
'It may sound overly dramatic to say finding SHIP was “life changing” but I am here to tell you it absolutely has been. You see my little boy, Calum, has quite severe non-verbal autism. He has lots of very challenging sensory issues & has lots of obsessive compulsive behaviours. He has absolutely no sense of danger & has self injurious behaviours. He needs round the clock, one to one supervision & because of all his challenges it is very difficult/impossible to take him to all the normal clubs/parks/soft play/swimming etc that neuro typical children have access to. Prior to starting at SHIP our world had got smaller & smaller. There were less and less places I could take Calum where he would be safe. Every outing ended in a full violent meltdown & led to him invariably needing to be carried out of wherever we might be kicking & screaming, hurting himself and whoever was caring for him. Life was dismal & I was too scared to imagine our future. What would happen to us? We’d be locked away in the secret world of autism unable to live our lives fully. Autism had already robbed my little boy of his voice & now it was slowly but surely robbing him of a full & happy childhood. I was beyond devastated for my beautiful boy. Then he turned 5! He could join SHIP! I was so, so anxious about leaving him & so the (amazing & experienced) staff allowed me to stay with him and let him settle in at his own pace & allowed me to see him being happy & accepted! There was absolutely no judgement! They fully understood every little concern or quirk. It was like a weight being lifted off of us! Very quickly Calum realised this was a place for HIM! He was relaxed. He was calm. He was happy. He was accepted! He became friends with so many of the staff. Staff who I now deem to be our friends for life. They love Calum & he loves them. Calum attends a Tuesday night youth club, Wednesday & Thursday after school club & Saturday afternoon youth club. He also attends all holiday clubs. He has been to the Glasgow science centre, the swimming pool, active kids, Noah’s ark soft play, bowling, play parks, cafes - the list goes on and on! I cannot express how grateful I am to SHIP. It has opened up my little boy’s world and massively improved his quality of life. The staff at SHIP are expert in using different communication aids and have helped Calum with his use of PEC’s & also using visual schedules etc. In summary, I can’t express how much SHIP has improved our lives. It is a lifeline to families like ours. Instead of being hidden behind closed doors, too scared to venture out into the world we now have a very happy little boy who has so many people who love him & help him grow. I can’t even bring myself to imagine our lives without SHIP now..'
We will have successfully supported all 430 parents/carers and siblings by giving them a break to enjoy life outside their caring role by offering flexible hours for Holiday club giving more choice.
100% of families have given positive feedback that through SHIP Holiday clubs they have been given the opportunity to enjoy life outside their caring roles. All parents reported the new booking system gave them the flexibility to choose times that suited them. This allowed them to plan activities around when they most required help. 42,000 hours of holiday respite was provided throughout the year.
‘Grateful thanks to everyone for all the organisation and effort that goes into summer club. My child loves their time there and very much looks forward to seeing friends and having fun. You provide an invaluable service which allows me to have a break and breath so that I am more able to cope with the demands of my child during the holidays. The difference these days make to siblings is huge and very much supports them in their caring role and allows them to have a break and to be the centre of attention. It really is a lifeline for our families mental health.’ ‘Without the holiday club being in place we would not be able to function as a family unit. Apart from our ability to spend time as a couple, our child's specific sensory problems mean that we are unable to vacuum the house or cut the lawn during the holiday period. ‘ ‘He always enjoys his time there. The new online system worked well. I liked seeing the photographs online throughout the day of what activities the young people were enjoying doing. Seeing those it made it easier to communicate when he came home about what he'd done during the day as normally he doesn't say much, now I can ask questions based on what I'd seen in the photos so that was really helpful thanks. It makes a difference when you can ask a simpler question rather than 'tell me about what you did today' you can ask about something quite specific which makes him open up more, eg 'oh those looked like really yummy cupcakes, tell me how you made them?' or 'I saw you in the gym and you all had big smiles on your faces, what was happening then? What was making you happy?' Feels like he's joining in more when we're talking about our days sitting round the table eating a meal at night as a family so it's been helpful thanks.’ "We would be lost without ship we don't have sitters or family that come to help out its just us so ship gives us a bit of time for us and we know our son enjoys it so much makes it even better’
430 carers can depend on a reliable service run with trained members of staff & volunteers during the school holidays allowing them to have a break and recharge their batteries, knowing that their children are safe and happy, which will support them to sustain their caring role
All (462) carers and young cares benefited from having a well-run, reliable service to ensure they could have a break from their caring roles according to survey’s sent out at the end of every holiday club session. Carers felt that having somewhere they could trust to look after their child’s complex needs allowed them to relax and be more ready for their caring role. We set out to support 430 carers and actually supported 462.
R’s mum contacted SHIP before the summer holidays asking for R to be booked into holiday club everyday as she was having an operation. R has Cerebral Palsy, Visual Impairment and Epilepsy. She had some concerns as she has only every booked R into the club for a day a week previously as R normally refuses to eat or drink for anyone except mum. We worked closely with mum to put in a support plan that would help R feel relaxed enough to eat. R came to Holiday club participated in all the activities and more importantly ate and drank throughout the day. We kept in contact with mum everyday so she could relax knowing R was happy and well cared for. R’s mum got the time to recoup through the day allowing her the energy to care for R in the evening. ‘I was recuperating from a massive operation over the summer. Ship meant R was well cared for and very happy. It was essential respite for our family in a time of great need. We find it difficult letting our daughter go to Carers but have no doubts Rebecca is extremely happy at ship. We can go out for meals, spend quality time with our other daughter, shop, and do activities which generally aren’t accessible’
Additional project outcome
Children and young people with Additional Support Needs will feel more included in their local community through accessing local facilities. 130 children will have had the opportunity to access resources in their local community. We exceeded this number and supported 136 children to access clubs and the community.
‘SHIP has been incredibly helpful through the summer holidays providing activities and entertaining our children. Who otherwise can not access regular community activities. It provides a much needed break also for parents of demanding and challenging youngsters, whilst enabling them to spend time with other siblings who might not otherwise have that 1-1 attention.’ ‘My little boy loves going on all the trips and because he is going with the SHIP team he goes places I couldn’t manage to take him myself.’ ‘My child loved doing all the sports on offer. He enjoyed being part of the sports activities on offer and we now do yoga every morning together. He also visited parks, local swimming pool and Active kids. These are places I have struggle to take him alone because of his challenging behaviour. SHIP have given be the support strategies and confidence to take those outings’