Short Breaks for children and young people with additional support needs, their carers and families.
A story by Central Carers Association
Our project brought together families ,children and young people with complex additional support needs and their carers and siblings, from Falkirk and Clackmannanshire area for short break, days out and trips throughout school holidays, evenings and weekends.
What Short Breaks for children and young people with additional support needs, their carers and families. did
We delivered 7 different short breaks for families, young people with complex needs, their carers and siblings. The program of events and activities was decided based on feedback from a survey that we ask families to complete. Young people and their carers told us that they needed more opportunities to socialise in supported, non-judgmental environments. Families told us that having the opportunity to meet peers, have fun and develop friendships were important for them. The 7 trips were all ASN friendly; Cool creatures, October trips to Airthrill in Falkirk, pantomime at the local town hall in Falkirk just before Christmas, 2 day trips during the February half term to the Science Centre and Dynamic Earth, finishing off with a family fund day at Alloa Trampoline park. All trips included food and drink for all of the family plus transport for those who needed it.
To make the project a success, we ensured we included families, centre staff and partners in the planning of the trips. Families who had not had an opportunity to attend previous breaks were given priority spaces and were identified through their support worker from the centre, other members of staff at the centre such as Young Carers Support workers and Training co-ordinators and through our partnership working with the Family Support Service. Additional spaces on the trips were promoted on our Social Media channels and our newsletter as this has proven to encourage hidden carers to self-identify for support.
We ensured we kept a good level of communication with the venue we were attending to ensure it was appropriate for carers and children with additional support needs. Staff from the centre attended to support the young people so that carers could have a break during the activity. Our project was successful in improving confidence in carers, many giving feedback that they felt more confident getting out as a family. They also enjoyed having some peer support, having fun and making friends. Some of the families have maintained a friendship beyond the project. Due to Covid families often had to cancel their spaces. However, we had a waiting list and were able to offer spaces to other families.
What Central Carers Association has learned
In consultation prior to this application being submitted, carers, those that they care for and families indicated that they thought that continuation funding should be sought for future Better Breaks outings and provided some ideas and suggestions via a survey of what they felt would work for them in terms of social opportunities for those attending, differing abilities, accessibility and enjoyment/interest. Families overwhelmingly have told us that this funding helps their confidence to get out and try new things and has been a really positive change being able to socialise and enjoy times with others in a supportive and understanding environment. These opportunities to come together as carers and as a family, don’t really exist otherwise.To make the project a success, we ensured we included families, centre staff and partners in the planning of the trips. Families who had not had an opportunity to attend previous breaks were given priority spaces and were identified through their support worker from the centre, other members of staff at the centre such as Young Carers Support workers and Training co-ordinators and through our partnership working with the Family Support Service. Additional spaces on the trips were promoted on our Social Media channels and our newsletter as this has proven to encourage hidden carers to self-identify for support.
As a centre we source additional funding for much of the work that we do. A lot of time and effort goes into consultation, applying, planning, budgeting, delivering and evaluating and we do this with the existing staff team. We ask for a small amount of funding and with that we deliver activities throughout the year that support many families. We do not have additional capacity to apply to and report to multiple funders for small pots of funding. Therefore we do ask for a small contribution from families and where we can we source discounts or free spaces for activities or trips.
How Central Carers Association has benefitted from the funding
The better breaks funding has strengthened the support that we can offer to families and helped us to take a family approach to support. We have identified and supported mainly newly identified carers within this years project and a number of new young carers and young adult carers are receiving support as a result of the project.
Disabled children and young people (aged 20 and under) will have more opportunities to have fun, develop friendships and do activities they enjoy.
This outcome was achieved successfully, all of the evaluations we received which included feedback from the children demonstrated that they had fun, a few stating that they enjoyed playing with peers and felt involved with all activities.
Family A - single parent with 3 children. This family gave feedback to our staff directly and they completed an evaluation which demonstrated the children all developed friendships on the trip and felt included and involved throughout the day and that they had fun and were excited for the next outing.
Carers of disabled children and young people (aged 20 and under) will have more opportunities to enjoy a life outside of their caring role
80% Carers of disabled children and young people will feel that they have more of a life outside of caring. This outcome was fully achieved.
Family A reported - that the project positively impacted them as a family. Both the parents and children felt more included and more confident in getting out of the house – this family disclosed that they did not feel confident going for days out having a child with additional support needs and even felt they could not go to the supermarket as a family. Our project created an environment they felt comfortable in, where there were other families in similar caring roles and circumstances and it was a non-judgemental and safe environment for all.
100% of carers who attend the outings and activities will feel better supported to sustain their caring role. Not just through support of the carers centre staff but also from the friendships and peer networks that can develop
This outcome was fully achieved.
Our case study shows that a single parent carer A felt a positive change. They were able to get some more life balance from attending the project – it allowed her to get a small break while her children had fun and she also got peer support from other parent carers, this then was the beginning of a new friendship with another parent carer and they have kept in touch since. Carer A feels less isolated. Carer A feels more confident to engage with other supports in the centre and wider community now.
Carers and young people with additional complex needs will feel that that their wellbeing has improved as a result of the short breaks and the support networks developed
The outcome was fully achieved.
Parent carer A - stayed at home prior to attending our project with her children as she did not feel she could go out for trips and events as a family as her confidence in her caring role was not great. Our project allowed her to grow this confidence with getting out the house as a family and since she now feels confident enough to take her children to ASN friendly sessions at venues that suits her and them. Carer A told us this. "From my point of view its great having the opportunity to take part in trips with parents with caring responsibilities also. I think the biggest thing for me is the opportunities that the Carers Centre gives us with Better Breaks etc. Days out can be really expensive for a family and especially for a family like ourselves where 1 parent doesn't work and receives Carers Allowance. We always have to watch our pennies and will even more so with the cost of living rises. It allows us to do things as a family that we normally wouldn't be able to afford or justify spending the money on. The Christmas Panto is a prime example of this and something we never did as a family before attending with the Carers Centre as it would cost too much and you would have the worry of if your child would cope and would have to leave early. I think with the cost of living rises and people struggling with money they will very much love the opportunities given by Better Break/Carers Centre. We have also made lots of family memories from trips with the Carers Centre."