SNAP Short Breaks 2021-22
A story by SNAP
SNAP aim to enhance the lives of young people with additional support needs through social experiences. We encourage the development of social skills and independence, offering an experience of fun in a creative, supportive environment whilst also providing opportunities for parents to have time off
What SNAP Short Breaks 2021-22 did
We were able to run all 28 Out & Abouts (6 hours on a Saturday) which included activities such as Archery, picnics at the park, Landmark, a boys night at Rollerbowl and a trip to the cinema, just to name a few. All the activities were chosen by our young people through our 'Big book of Idea's' This is our scrapbook which the young people either write in or draw their ideas of what they would like to do and we then tick it off once completed. It is important that they are the driving force behind these decisions so they can build confidence and self esteem through trying new activities with their peers.
We also completed our 5 x 48hr breaks which allowed us to take groups away to spend quality time away with their peers, try new activities and give their parents/ carers some much needed respite. Most of these breaks were held at a lodge locally to help with Covid restrictions but we were able to go further afield when restrictions eased slightly. This really helped to develop our relationship with that organisation even further because a lot of trust and work had to go in to making these breaks possible which was a real bonus. Recently we were able to take 8 teens to Blair Drummond safari park in Stirling which was a real highlight. For many, it felt like a proper holiday away from home and more grown up.
We also used our 2x 28hr breaks to take two young people away for their first sleepovers with SNAP. Both of these young people require 2:1 care so it was a real milestone for them, us and their families. One parent said she didn't think that would have ever been possible but cant wait for the next one already. Taking them away for the one night shows them how much fun the sleepovers are but also gently prepares them for us taking them away the next time for 48hrs.
With many respite centres still being closed or running to reduced capacity, parents needed these services more than ever and you can see that our young people appreciated them even more than normal too.
What SNAP has learned
1) The importance of Young people being with friends their age. Socialisation in group settings is really beneficial to most people and will greatly improve confidence and wellbeing. Nothing makes people forget the challenges of life (school, collage, transitions etc)than a good laugh with your friends while doing activities you enjoy.
2) Partnership working. With the above said, we have made some really good connections with other organisations throughout these services and having these good relationships provides further opportunities to them, us and our young people.
3)Dealing with challenges. Throughout the past year we have had to jump over many hurdles to be able to run these services for our young people. It was certainly not easy but we are incredibly proud of our team for working so well and safely to ensure all this fun could still be had, even through a global pandemic. Staff had to clean more than ever, think outside the box and be more creative than ever which they did exceptionally well. One parent fed back to us that we were the most proactive organisation she had seen throughout Covid which was great for our staff to hear after so much hard work.
How SNAP has benefitted from the funding
We have learnt to think creatively and even more outside the box. Through our funding from the Better Breaks and the Summer of hope funding, we were able to take 30 young people, from our waiting list, on Saturdays O&A's during the summer holidays. Now having made these connections and built the relationships with these young people. We have been able to invite them on additional days out throughout the year. Its massively helped to bridge the gap from being on the waiting list to being allocated a space.
50 children aged under 20 will continue to attend 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. 5 new children will begin the project.
Over the past year we have successfully run 28 'Out & Abouts' with lots of different, fun activities that were chosen by our young people. A few examples of these activities were going to watch Funbox in a local theatre, a boy’s night to Rollerbowl, cinema trip and Landmark (local theme park). We had aimed to introduce 5 new young people to these 6 hour outings but we were able to offer this to 57 young people in total. That is 7 more than we had hoped- an outcome we are very proud of which was made possible by us securing extra funding from The Highland Council's 'Summer Of Hope' funding. This funding allowed us to put on an extra member of staff for 6 Saturday O&As during the Summer. The extra young people that we were able to offer these breaks to are currently on our waiting list so it was a great way to introduce them to some SNAP fun.
We had a young person start with us last year which took a lot of prep work to ensure their start at SNAP was a positive experience. This included social stories being developed and read routinely, our staff visiting them in their school class to start building a relationship and meetings with other professionals to gain knowledge on what worked well for them and what didn't.This young person has always struggled being around others and was in a class on their own at school for many years. Their parents needed the respite so they could spend time with their other children so was very keen for them to access SNAP services but were also very apprehensive it wouldn't work. Fast forward a year and everyone has been blown away with how much they love attending clubs, watching him interact with their new group of friends and all the new activities they have tried. Mum recently told us that it’s all they talk about at home and how much they love coming. They have attended activities such as archery, the cycle track, DrumFun and many more. All which have been in big groups, with friends their own age, which has just been incredible for everyone to see. They truly have blossomed over the past year and we cant wait to see what they achieve next year.
105 carers will have a 6hr break, relaxed in the knowledge their child are 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.
We regularly communicate back and forth with our families so we know this has been achieved well in the past year. Many have told us that they would have been lost without SNAP over the past year especially with most other services having to close or reduce in some ways. We always ask families what they will be doing when their young person is with us and its lovely to hear their plans knowing how important that is to them. These plans can be as little as going home and being able to choose what to watch on the T.V to climbing a Munro.
One parent asked us last year if there was any possibility of us running a sleepover on a particular weekend in December. She attends a parent support group throughout the year and they had planned a Christmas celebration away for all the mums/carers to go away for the night together. This parent said she would only be able to go if we could take her young person for the weekend as we are the only people she feels relaxed enough to leave them with. They have complex medical needs which limits who can care for them but also, she has seen how much fun they has while away so she wouldn't feel guilty for going. We couldn’t say no and booked for a group to go away that weekend and we aren’t sure who had the better weekend away us or mum.
105 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. 5 children will access a sleepover for the first time, allowing their carers the chance to have a proper break for perhaps the first time.
We were able to take away 3 new young people on their first sleepover which were all real highlights for us! Two of these young people require 2:1 support and the other has type 1 diabetes so each sleepover involved a lot of training and forward planning. Two of these young people have complex behaviour so going away without family members is near impossible. We had meetings with parents, created social stories, involved the young people in the planning to ensure it went smoothly but, the reality is, they went so well because our staff know these young people as well as they do. Knowing this means their parents can fully shut off because of the trust they have in us to look after their young people. Their parents were blown away with the outcome of all their sleepovers and have said they felt the night away gave them a chance to fully recharge. It was also obvious how much the young people enjoyed their trip too!! One was chanting "SNAP is the BEST!" when he was going to sleep.
There have been so many benefits from these weekend breaks away to families. These include... - One parent was admitted to hospital with an illness and we were able to take their young person away for the weekend to help with childcare while they were recovering. - One of our young people has been going through a very challenging time emotionally which has been very hard for their parents to help them through. We were able to take this young person away and give them an amazing weekend which gave them a distraction from their thoughts and it gave them a real boost. This also gave their parents a chance to relax and recharge for the following week. - We took another young person away for one night who is refusing to leave their house except to go to SNAP and school (part time). This is obviously very challenging for their parents to do anything as a couple because one of them always has to be at home with them. - One young person has real attachment issue with their mum so struggles to sleep on their own but we are able to take them away and let their parents get a good sleep. These are just a few examples but you can deal with anything if you have had a good night sleep so these breaks are a life line for families.
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. 5 children and their carers will have experienced a short break for the first time.
3 new young people were able to access this service for the first time which was fantastic. We pride ourselves on knowing our young people very well and although we had hoped to take away 5 new people on a trip away, there was nobody else we felt was ready for this next step in their SNAP journey. We want their first trip to be a memorable experience that they treasure forever but with many of them struggling after lock down and not being away from their families in two years, it just wasn't the right time. We hope to take more new people away this coming year. Altogether we took away 27 different young people on these weekend breaks which definitely increased their wellbeing and their families. That break from day to day life can give a real boost to continue in their caring role. Through these weekend breaks, young people were able to go to the pantomime, spend a day at Blair Drummond Safari park, go swimming, spend the day at a local theme park and Go-Karting just to name a few.
I asked one mum what it meant to her, us taking her young person away, and she replied "The world! To both me and to *****". This parent is a single parent who doesn't have any family that can help with her caring role. This young person has a real attachment to mum so has struggled to attend anywhere for respite overnight and would often abscond. We took this young person away for his first ever 28hr break which mum was very excited to try but also very apprehensive. We worked with her and her young person to ensure we had all his routines in place and all his closest friends were invited. We even booked a green lodge because green is his favourite colour. They had the best time away with us and is already asking when he can go away with again. Now we know this went so well, we can look at taking them on a longer weekend trip giving mum a full weekend to herself. Mum said "**** had never had a night away with friends before so I'm just so happy for him, and me of course. It gave us time away which did us both the world of good. We don't ever get that because its just us. I was able to recharge to cope".