SNAP Short Breaks 2019-20
A story by SNAP (Special Needs Action Project)
We provided the opportunity for 48 children with special needs to attend a variety of short breaks – Saturday outings and weekend (48 hr) and overnight stays (28 hr).
What SNAP Short Breaks 2019-20 did
We delivered 6x48 hour weekend breaks and 1x28 hour break which were accessed by a total of 31 children. Groups invited to participate based on their friendship groups within SNAP and activities were targeted to appeal to the individuals within the group. Activities were them finalised with the children during planning sessions.
5 children with an average age of 17 camped in wigwams at Big Sands in Gairloch in May. The weather wasn't kind to the group (some staff were under canvas), but it didn't stop the fun this bunch of teenage boys had whilst away with friends! Being out on the open air a great time was had by all and activities included making s'mores (requested by all the boys), spending time on the beach and going on a boat trip to look for wildlife which was a great adventure even though they didn't get to see much!
9 children with an average age of 14 stayed in a lodge at Badaguish in Aviemore in August. We've stayed at the Badaguish lodges on many occasions and. with them being just half an hour from Inverness they are a good area to take children to for the first time, or for those with higher needs.
The main planned outcomes for this trip was social interaction, life skills and building resilience. 6 children-average age 9 stayed in a cottage in Cullen in September 7 children-average age 15 stayed in hostel accommodation in Glenfeshie.
What SNAP (Special Needs Action Project) has learned
We continue to benefit from learning more about our children and families as a result of this project, which gives us and parents and children the added benefit of gaining more and more trust. This build of trust allows us to then push their boundaries which in turn opens up the benefits that they are able to gain from their social experiences with us. Examples of this are in the case studies.
We have learned how much more support our families can gain from us by targeting those in most need, for example families moving home, redecorating, with bereavements in the family, needing an urgent break. By having very open communications with families and close ties with Social Workers, we are able to be there when families need our support most.
We have grown our networks, working with an art project to deliver clay and art workshops, and with the Can-Do project where some of our young people attended a course of boxing training. We have learned that being able to offer such additional activities this broadens children's social experiences further, giving them additional interests that they can perhaps continue with their families.
How SNAP (Special Needs Action Project) has benefitted from the funding
The funding from Better Breaks allowed us to go to new locations, further away from home with our children, accessing new places and activities they hadn't done before. It allowed us to develop new links with arts, music and fitness providers which again provided additional, new activities that families could take part in together. It allowed us to build relationships with families and children, gain trust and push boundaries. By having this funding, we continue to build our staff skills and knowledge. These short breaks provide a place where children can open up, relax and be themselves, which allow staff to get to know them well and therefore as, I continue to say, push boundaries, which is so important for our children and their families
48 children aged under 20 will have attended weekend outings of 6 hours, enabling them to have fun and socialise. They will have had access to a variety of activities and outings which they will have had input in choosing and which will have enriched their social experiences.
A total of 50 children aged under 20 attended a short break of 6 hours, enabling them to take part in activities which they not only took part in choosing, but were fun, stimulating and rewarding. Activities ranged from simple "chill out" days, to activity days such as visiting the trampoline park, taking part in Archery, ice skating, visiting Highland Wildlife Park, Evanton Woods, a "Ninja Warrior" day, canoeing at Loch Insch, Rock Pooling at Cromarty, bowling as well as tie dying, girls and boys days and baking, craft etc.
We have a teenager with multiple support needs and limited communication who has been attending our after school clubs for many years. By building our relationship, with not only the young person, but also their family, we built trust and confidence, finding out how to get the best out of our young person. This took years of patience and practice, continuing to push boundaries with small successes along the way which eventually led to a major success where we were able to take this young person on our bus on a trip to an all ability cycle track. Not only did this young person manage to get on the bus, they also 100% enjoyed going around the cycle track, something that they had never managed before. Such a trip was very important on so many levels. Her family like to cycle and had never been able to take their young person on a cycle trip at a weekend, despite living close to the all ability cycle track. They are now able to include their young person in an activity that they all enjoy and this has given the whole family so much enjoyment and enrichment. The success due to this build of trust didn't stop there, and will continue in a case study below. It is so difficult to put down in words just what this meant, not only to the family but also to SNAP staff, but it was a huge milestone in this teenagers life
By having had planned breaks from the caring role, parents and carers have improved wellbeing. Children will have had more access to leisure and social opportunities, also resulting in increased wellbeing
In a recent survey, 100% of parents/carers have said they have improved wellbeing as a result of their child attending SNAP short breaks
One family who have two children who attend SNAP were able to plan a trip to Edinburgh to see the Christmas markets, lights and take in the activities with their youngest child (SNAP attendee) whilst their eldest came on a sleepover with us. As a result of the needs of both of their children, they aren't able to go on simple trips to local shops or beaches, let alone a weekend break to Edinburgh with they two children at the same time, so being able to plan such a trip gave important family time and experiences to Mum, Dad and youngest child. Without the trust that had been built at SNAP activities, Mum and Dad would not have had the confidence to be able to do this, and it has given them more confidence to plan more similar activities in the future.
90 carers will have a 6 hour break, relaxed in the knowledge their child is in safe hands with SNAP. If they so desire, they can access activities which take them outside their caring role or just relax, and take time to recharge
100 carers benefited from their child accessing a 6 hour break, with a broad range of activities chosen by their child, or chosen with them in mind. Breaks were planned with as much notice as possible to allow parents/carers to plan their time if they so desired.
It is difficult to do a case study on this outcome, as carers don't necessarily want to tell us that they "just" read a book, or binge watched a Netflix series, or just had valued one to one time with another child. However, I can list some of the ways we know that carers have told us they spent their time when their child was on a 6 hour break with us. One carer had had a recent family bereavement and found it very hard to grieve whilst being a full time carer for her child. Knowing she would have some time to herself allowed her to cope and deal with her feelings. Another carer planned to give her sons bedroom a "gutting" - something that was long overdue but very difficult to do with her autistic son in the house. Another carer booked an afternoon tea with her girlfriends A group of mums whose children all attended a day at SNAP travelled to Aberdeen for a day's shopping and girly time. All of these activities gave parents and carers much needed time to themselves to do things they wanted to do, rather than needed to do, building their own social networks or just simply having time to themselves
90 parents and carers of children who attend SNAP will have a 28 or 48 hour break whilst their children go on a “Sleepover” break with their peers and SNAP staff.
A total of 66 parents/carers of children who attend SNAP had at least one 28 or 48 hour break whilst their children went on a SNAP "sleepover". The average number of sleepover attended were 3. Some of these children had never attended a sleepover before.
As previously stated, we have one 16 year old teenager who had a fantastic outcome based around her attending a cycling day out. This was extended to this fabulous young person attending, an overnight stay away with SNAP at a cottage in Boat of Garden that we regularly visit. Activities and other attendees and staff were carefully chosen so that this young person would have the best time. The group was kept quite small and the emphasis was on everyone having a relaxed time away with friends. To say that this young persons family were elated is an understatement. This was such a huge milestone in this young persons life, and that of their families. Once again, the trust that this young persons family put in SNAP was humbling. They booked a night away for themselves too , and really made the most of their first night off, ever. These sleepovers really allow our staff to get to know even more about our young people, and it can make such a huge difference to the outcomes for these children, as we can push them to do things we have seen them do before, or on a sleepover and really extend their social outlook which is obviously a huge benefit to everyone. We hope to have this young person come along on a 2 night break this year.