SHIP Holiday Club
A story by Support Help and Integration in Perthshire
We delivered holiday clubs for young people with complex support needs, the young people took part in a range of supported activities.
SHIP supports young people (0-18 years) with complex support needs in Perth and Kinross to access leisure and recreational activities within their community, whilst providing parents, carers and siblings with much needed respite.
What SHIP Holiday Club did
SHIP delivered holiday club activities for young people with complex support needs, which enabled parents/carers and siblings to take a break from their caring roles. The clubs supported not only the children but also offered their families/careers and siblings a break from their caring roles allowing them to recharge their batteries.
The holiday clubs ran for 1 week in April, 5 weeks in Summer and 1 week April from 8.30-5.30pm from Fairview school, Perth. The children were supported in activities and outings on a one to one basis with volunteers and experienced staff. This allowed families up to 9 hours per day respite. In total SHIP delivered 8900 hours of respite for families. With their time families have reported that they spent 'special' time with other siblings, hobbies, did household tasks, spent time with family and friends'. Families have said this time has 'given them some breathing space to allow them to have the energy to carry on'.
To ensure this project was a success SHIP worked closely with families to ensure clubs were at suitable times and the activities on offer were meaningful. Together it was decided that the outings would be to local recreational centers to allow the young people to gain skills and confidence in their communities. The parents felt that it gave them the confidence to visit the venues with their child/ren, in the knowledge their child enjoyed the experience.
The families worked with SHIP to ensure the times clubs ran made the most impact for them, allowing them the respite they were needing. A highlight within the project was a training day open to all families, volunteers, staff and other agencies we work with. This not only allowed everyone to gain some new skills but bought everyone together allowing the opportunity to swap experiences, skills, information about other services and support.
What Support Help and Integration in Perthshire has learned
Reaching out and engaging with families this year we involved families and young people with the planning of clubs more and when the clubs should be run. This ensured that the clubs were being held when families most needed them ie, days, weeks and times clubs were run. It has meant that families have been more forthcoming with ideas and engaging with us more often. As a result, we have planned more local outings throughout the holidays which has benefited families by giving them increased confidence to visit the facilities at other times knowing their young person had enjoyed the experience with SHIP.
We also held various events that allowed parents and families to get together, which many families said they felt much more connected to others. We plan to do families parties and training sessions though out the next project to allow families to get together, share experiences and help to reduce their social isolation.
Dealing with unexpected challenges within the project SHIP experienced some challenges around the venue that was used in the summer holiday. The project is held at a school as the building is sitting empty throughout the school holidays. We were told a few weeks before the club was due to start that we could only access the building from 9-4pm due to janitorial contracts throughout the school holidays. This presented us with a huge problem as our sessions run from 8.30 – 5.30. We managed to book another room at a different venue which meant we would have had to bus the service users. This provided us with the challenge that the care inspectorate had not inspected the new premises and could not guarantee they had time to do so before the start of the summer holidays.
Through rigorous negotiation with the council they allowed us to become key holders allowing entry to the building. From this experience we have learnt that we must have alternative plans in place just in case. We are currently consulting with the Care Inspectorate with a solution to the them inspecting premises. We have provided them with a list of possible venues that the clubs might use.
Volunteer development, the charity relies on volunteers to help support the young people that attend SHIP. Each of the volunteers go through a training programme to ensure they have the basic skills they require to do this. Throughout their time as a volunteer they have other training and opportunities to run sessions. This year we felt the volunteers need more team building sessions and time to get to know each other. Sometimes the volunteers can have very challenging days and need the support of not just staff members but other volunteers.
We took the volunteers on a team building day to help them bond together. This had a huge impact on their confidence to speak with each other but also when working with the children they engaged more in group activities. This is having a positive effect on the young people’s confidence to join in group activities. We have learnt that taking more time in engaging volunteers and team building is just as important as training sessions.
How Support Help and Integration in Perthshire has benefitted from the funding
Better Breaks funding has meant we continued to support families in Perth and Kinross by offering Holiday clubs for children with additional support needs and complex needs. These clubs meant families received respite through what can be very stressful times. Throughout the holidays we got emergency referrals from families in crisis and without Better Breaks funding we would not be able to offer any support. SHIP has had excellent feedback from families, local schools, Perth and Kinross Council and Child Health Team which has strengthened our reputation within the local communities. With the strong relationships with have built up with other agencies and families we are looking at piloting holiday activities in Kinross to support this rural location. This has all been possible because we have been supported by Better Breaks.
That all 127 children with Additional Support Needs will be able to have fun and forge friendships doing activities they enjoy.
All 127 children participated in group activities which encouraged communication and social skills. The children then used these learnt skills to engage with their volunteers and peers. The children and families all participated in the planning of the activities, which gave them a sense of ownership and ensured that the activities were things they enjoyed.
“SHIP activities for my kids are more like interaction therapies. They are learning how to play with their peers, learning about rules & friendships & getting daily exercise, going out into the local community to integrate and feel part of it rather than be excluded from it. They enjoy all the varied activities put on daily. SHIP regularly changes the themes of their activities to keep it more exciting. My kids always come home happy and can tell they have had a day full of fun and laughs.” “SHIP affords my son the chance to be with his peers he is a young man and it is not appropriate for him to be spending all his holiday time with just his mother he should have the opportunity to mix with other youngsters in fun activities like all other able children do. He really enjoys engaging in group activities such as swimming and cooking. SHIP also enables him to take part in activities that I would not be able to provide such as Therapets.” “Our children have been able to socialise with their peers and young volunteers in a safe environment that has aided their social skills and provided an opportunity to develop friendships. The Club is really the only means by which this is enabled. The activities at the youth club are structured and allow sensory management due to the facilities, they can also play with peers on computer or do baking and arts and crafts with 1-1 support. "The holiday club has permitted experiences such as swimming, sailing, outdoor play and sensory play facilities such as the Yard, Cairnie Fruit Farm, woodland walks, parks. These provided an opportunity to experience new environments and enable them to feel less stressed and anxious than otherwise would be the case as a result of 1-1 support and familiar staff.”
Parents, carers and siblings of the children with additional support needs will report feeling less stressed towards their caring role.
It has been reported by 100% of families, through surveys and questionnaires, they feel the service helps them feel less stressed throughout school holidays especially the summer holidays. Families have reported that the children having routine through the holidays has impacted on their behaviours therefore impacting on the whole family’s well-being.
“We have 10 year old twin sons, both of whom have a diagnosis of ASD and Learning Disability. As a consequence of how their disabilities impact on them they have acute but diametrically opposed sensory needs. It is impossible in a home setting to meet both of their needs. This is difficult enough to manage during term time but becomes impossible to manage during prolonged holiday periods. When either of their needs is not being met this results in aggressive challenging behaviour. As a consequence, holiday periods are stressful for the boys individually, and also for us as their parents. The provision of the SHIP holiday club means that with their specialist facilities and expertise both boys can be provided with an environment which meets their particular needs. As a direct result individually and collectively the family is not only able to cope with holiday periods but each of us as an individual within the family feel less stressed which has a great impact on our individual and collective wellbeing.”
To have successfully offered at least 2 days of activities per week for each child/young person with additional support needs.
The holiday club ran for 35 days in the year offering 30 full day spaces and 6 half day spaces a day. This allowed all families to receive at least 2 sessions a week respite if required. Throughout the summer holidays we also had 5 instances that families had emergency appointments and needed care for their children which we accommodated.
“SHIP Holiday Club has had a massive impact on mine and my boys well-being. It gives them structure & routine during the holidays. I feel less stressed and much more relaxed too. The Holiday Club has given me more opportunities outside my normal caring role. I have time for ME, going to gym, housework, shopping and having that we bit of ME time does wonders for my mental wellbeing. I do feel rejuvenated by the time I collect them rather than being frazzled at the end of the day.” “We have been able to do normal things which other people would take for granted. Simple tasks such as vacuuming the house, and cutting the grass, which we can't do due to our sons' sensory problems. We were also able go out for lunch as a couple, and spend time together, which otherwise would not have been possible, as we have no family network in the area.” “My child is 24/7 care and also has challenging behaviour therefore school holidays are very long and demanding. The care we have to give is not only physical but also emotional and psychological. This is draining on not only parents but also siblings when they receive very little attention. Indeed they too are required to help out. SHIP offers us a break time to spend catching up on household chores shopping seeing friends and spending time with our other children.”