SNAP Breakaways for 5 - 20 year olds
A story by SNAP
To date we have delivered:
• 3 x 48 hour weekend breaks – to Lagannlia near Aviemore, Grantown on Spey and Nethy Bridge.
• 1x 28 hour weekend break on the banks of Loch Ness. We have stayed in accommodation as diverse as bunkhouses, wigwams, chalets and a converted railway station.
• 9 x 6hr (Out & Abouts) breaks, Out & About in the community or based at Drummond School. Our activities have ranged from den building, swimming, Art & Craft days, going to Eden Court to see the Singing Kettle, go-Karting, trips to town for the teens and watching Inverness Caley matches to name but a few.
This project will provide leisure, recreational and social opportunities for attendees and provide a valuable break for their carers and siblings.
Tip 1:Make sure there are a series of systems in place to record feedback from the children and young people, parents and carers, so you can evidence your results
Tip 2:Be organised and keep accurate records.
Tip 3:Mix it up, do your homework and have fun!
We have tried hard to not let the word disability be a limiting factor, but rather a challenge to access a variety of exciting activities, venues and accommodation.
Do your homework on the on the people involved - cared for and carers and what their specific needs are, so they can maximize their free time in as relaxed a manner as possible. Encourage everyone to have fun!
For one of our group, whose mum had recently died it was a timely and welcome break, she now lives in a house that is predominantly male, dad and 3 brothers. She gained a lot of emotional support from the weekend. She wanted to stay up late at night to chat, which she was encouraged to do and commented ‘it was nice to have some girly time’
We took an all boys group on a 48 hour break which was high on energy and activity. We stayed in a bunkhouse in Grantown on Spey. They went swimming, went up the funicular railway in Aviemore –tried to sledge unsuccessfully in too soft snow, which brought much hilarity, hot chocolate to warm everyone up. On this weekend there was no doubt that stronger friendships were forged as a result of it
We try to find different locations and accommodation to stay in that we think our young people will find fun and exciting. On one of our 48 hour breaks we stayed in a converted railway station which had lots of interesting nooks and crannies which proved useful in an impromptu game of hide and seek, even more so when it was discovered that there was a hidden bedroom which was called Narnia. This accommodation definitely fitted the bill and offered a different experience .
Carers benefit from relinquishing their caring role for short periods of time. Our carers used their time in varying ways and feedback to us the benefits of having this quality time, here are some examples of what they got up to :
• Had a lovely long lie
• One couple went to a family party and had a lot more relaxing time because they did not have to deal with the associated issues surrounding their sons anxiety at such occasions
• One parent was able to rest and have a relaxing weekend before going in for a major surgical procedure on Monday
• One mum ran a 10K – her first, running is the only ‘me’ time she said she ever has
• One parent remarked she was really looking forward to having a meal at home with her husband and it being uninterrupted
• A number of parents commented on how good it was to be given a rest from the daily repetitive tasks that they have to do to aid their child getting through any given day
• 'I did nothing and went nowhere and it was wonderful!'
• For most carers it was a chance to reconnect and have quality time with their other children or families and friends
The children learn from the example of their peers how to behave, possibly how to hold a knife and fork and other social actions. The children may be able to access activities that they cannot do at home. An example of this type of thing would perhaps be attending a dance or drama workshop. The family of the child/young person may be unable or unwilling to take them. Yet is a perfect opportunity for the children/young people to socialise with their peers, to learn something new and to build their self-esteem by being successful.
We can provide the support of trained enthusiastic staff that could enable an activity like that to happen. Our children achieve many triumphs and have successes in many areas, which is fantastic for raising their self esteem but is also great for a parent /carer to witness.
Others would prefer to take part in an activity and in these instances we plan the weekend break to suit their tastes.We take this into consideration when planning a 6 hour break -if there is a common interest we will tap into that and plan accordingly -e.g. some of our children love going to football matches so we could organise a 6 hour break on a Saturday to take them to see the local team. Or for instance some of our teen groups would prefer lunch in town and a shopping trip, or a visit to the cinema or bowling alley
We also support the personalisation of carers eg organising breaks to help carers do something that is important to them for example helping them with care for their charges if they want to for example go to a wedding or take part in a sporting event such as running in a local marathon. Or by offering short breaks at times when we know pressures rise for families e.g. school holidays or before Christmas.
We consult with both the children and young people in planning the events beforehand and try to give as much warning of upcoming breaks as possible. We do this by having good staff/client relationships, by being available for consultation by the parents and carers, by holding parent social events such as coffee and chat sessions. asking the parents and carers to fill in questionnaires.
SNAP prides itself on the efforts we take to engender good relations with parents and carers, they are vital to the effective running of our services.
In a recent 48 hour break we saw very clearly how even an originally negative situation, when given time, can completely turn around as the people involved are asked to take responsibility for their actions, are supported to retrieve the situation to a positive end. Hopefully thereby learning the lessons and carrying them forward to other areas of their life
We had a great weekend but 2 boys who had been getting on fantastically well started to name call another member of the group, their behaviour deteriorated to an unacceptable level so as a final consequence it was pointed out that both boys would not be allowed to share the same room as they had the previous night, if their behaviour did not improve. One of the boys had a verbally aggressive outburst with various degrees of dramatic gesturing and noise. He was given space and time. He re-joined the group for dinner then afterwards asked to speak to the Team Leader.
He apologised for his behaviour and opened up emotionally to reveal a side to him we had never been privy to before. He revealed he struggled to meet real friends, but felt he really had this weekend with this other boy which is why he got so upset when he thought he was being prohibited from seeing him. He was a changed boy from that moment on.
They all had an ‘under the table party’ lots of laughter and a mini feast which he joined in with. He also got up early the next day and insisted on making tea and toast for the staff and then helped make breakfast for everyone else when they got up.
We realised that people are key to each and everything we do, be it children, parents or staff. We have a fairly small staff team and one of our key members of staff left the team at the start of this funding strand. Because of the complex needs of the young people in our groups it takes time and training to build up the skills of a new member of staff, it also takes some time to build up a rapport and trust with parents, that allows them to be at ease with someone new taking their child away for a weekend break.
So it is fair to say we were not able to be up and running with our short breaks as quickly as we would have liked. We have been catching up though!
We have good relationships with the Children and Families with Disabilities Social Work Team, teachers and health professionals, we will usually get invited to Child Plan Meetings where we can hear at first hand of a family's changing/existing circumstances. Our referral system allows any of the professionals already mentioned to identify families in need of services, but parents or carers can also make a referral to us.
All our children have a learning difficulty Other conditions that some of our young people and children have are: ASD, Down's syndrome, Kabuki Syndrome, Global Development Delay, Verbal Dyspraxia, Cerebral Palsy, Profound and Multiple sensory disorders,communication difficulties, complex medical, feeding or mobility issues which require specialist medical or moving and handling care
The website is a good source of information. It has been an extremely busy time for form filling, as our due dates for applications and evaluations collided on the same date, it would have been a bit easier from our point of view if we could have spread them out a bit.
The workshops have been useful and good opportunities to network with other providers in the same area