Sibling support groupwork
A story by Barnardos
We provided, facilitated and supported the delivery of sibling support group work programmes to children living in a family with a sibling who has a disability..
What Sibling support groupwork did
The staff utilised to deliver the groupwork already had both an interest and previous experience of delivering this type of work. We have a large pool of volunteers already working within West Lothian and we approached them to try and engage their support in this work. The times of the group delivery did not suit our volunteer availability but we did get some limited support on a couple of the activity days that we delivered in partnership with the local authority in the summer of 2014.
We provided 4 groupwork programmes for a total of 33 children. The 4 programme provided a total of 28 sessions, each lasting around 2 hours. Two programme were delivered in Edinburgh and the other 2 were delivered in West Lothian. We supported a 24 hour residential at Wiston Lodge for 8 children and 4 summer activity days available on a 'drop in basis' were attended by a total of 24 West Lothian children.
Children were referred to the programmes by social work,Barnardo's and CAMHS. The activity days were widely advertised to families who would not otherwise have gained access to this type of service. The break provided for parents/carers was limited for those attending the groupwork programmes, shopping was one of the most popular activities undertaken by carers. The residential provided a longer break and more time for parents to 'catch up' or ease the stress on their 'carer' role.
Ashley was referred to the group by West Lothian Family Support Services. Her attendance levels at the group were very good. Initially Ashley was very quiet in the group but as the weeks progressed she became more confident to talk about her family, sibling and experiences. It was clear that she felt comfortable in the safe space of the group to speak out and found the input of other group members very comforting and useful. She appeared to enjoy all activities and her feedback regarding her enjoyment of the group was very positive. She made friendships with her peers in the group. As a result of the group she has now found the confidence to attend ballet and swimming lessons.
They have a carer role at home, and are involved with the support of their brother, whom they spoke very affectionately about. They especially engaged with the practical elements of the group. They could relate to the strategies, activities and tours and were active in their discussion. They spoke about how they could use the visual timetable with larger symbols and how they would use sensory activities at home to engage with their brother. They passed on these experiences to their parents at the end of the sessions.
The opportunity to access the school and respite service encouraged them to discuss examples of home/school life for themselves and their sibling and also other services their sibling accesses.
She missed two sessions of the group but settled back in well. Charlie feedback that she enjoyed the social aspect of the group and had made a friendship with another group member and swapped contact details with her. They have continued their friendship after the group. Charlie’s feedback on the group included “it’s fun and you make new friends”. By accessing the group it has also provided Charlie with the opportunity to attend the sibling’s group fun days and she will be attending a Christmas pantomime
What Barnardos has learnedThe fund allowed us to release staff who were able to continue to support the delivery of siblings groupwork in West Lothian as part of a multi-agency partnership. The partnership provided activity days in Summer 2014 and a residential for 8 children using Wiston Lodge which is an outdoor adventure centre already known to Barnardo's.
The referrals for the groups and other activities provided in West Lothian were gathered through a variety of sources including social work This ensured that we were able to reach children who would not otherwise have accessed or asked for support. The fund also allowed us to deliver sibling groupwork in Edinburgh.
Referrals were received through CAMHS and Barnardo's. There is very little support in Edinburgh for siblings of children with disabilities. We had planned to deliver a group for teenagers in Edinburgh, however despite the need being there and work undertaken by staff to engage with this group we were not successful in gathering enough referrals to make a group viable.