Short Breaks for Children & Young People with Additional Support Needs
A story by Central Carers Association
We provided a range of fun, rewarding and stimulating group outings/activities for children and young people with additional support needs and their families and carers during the school holidays.
What Short Breaks for Children & Young People with Additional Support Needs did
Outings for children and young people with disabilities and their families in Falkirk District and Clackmannanshire during the school holidays and at Christmas time were promoted and publicised widely to eligible families on the Carers Centre mailing list and through local schools and other organisations and agencies.
As places were limited, families were asked to complete an application form which had been devised to collect relevant information that would allow us to prioritise allocation of places to families of children with multiple support needs, those with the least support in place from other sources and those who had had no, or fewer, opportunities to attend a Better Breaks outing in the past and places were allocated accordingly.
Families enjoyed fun and stimulating outings together, providing an opportunity to relax, have some fun and meet with other families. All transport needs, food and activities were arranged, taking account of any special requirements, so that the families did not have to worry about anything on the day.
Outings for families took place as follows:
2 outings to Achingarrich Wildlife Centre, Comrie during the summer holidays
2 family trips to 10-pin bowling in the October break
A visit to the Pantomime in December 2014
A visit to Edinburgh Zoo, Easter 2015
What Central Carers Association has learned
The fund has allowed us to reach and offer support to a large number of parent carers and the children and young people that they care for. We have seen the benefits of bringing people together in situations where they do not feel they are being judged by others - parents, siblings and children with disabilities can relax and have fun together without worrying about the disapproval of others:
"To be in a great family environment with similar people was beneficial to me and my son"
"[I was] not worried about dealing with melt downs"
For many, the trips reduced isolation which will have ongoing benefits as new contacts were made and information was shared:
"Made a new friend and realised on bus home we had been at school together! My son also made a friend."
"Learned about possible young carers groups"
A challenge has been coping with the demand for trips, particularly as we try to reach new carers and those less likely to ask for support. Our final trip was greatly over-subscribed and had to be limited to families caring for a child with multiple support needs with little or no other support in place and who had attended no previous Better Breaks outings in the past.
Unfortunately, this means raising expectations with a large number of families in the first instance, leading to subsequent disappointment when places cannot be allocated. We will be looking at this going forward in relation to our Better Breaks award for 2015-16 and will perhaps consider tightening up the eligibility criteria from the outset.