SNAP Short Breaks 2022-2023
A story by SNAP (Special Needs Action Project)
Short breaks for carers, offering children and young people (aged 19 and under) with special/complex needs up to 6 hour breaks and overnight breaks of up to 48 hours, providing valuable leisure, recreational and socialisation opportunities for young people whilst giving families a break from caring.
What SNAP Short Breaks 2022-2023 did
We delivered 28 "Out and Abouts" - 5 "2 night weekend breaks" and 2 "1 night break"
The Out and abouts varied from swimming at a pool slightly outwith our local area (Aviemore), to beach days out, forest days out to activity sessions such as paddle boarding (supported by Able2Adventure), Tubing and trips to theatre (funbox) and cinema.
Weekend breaks took place at Badaguish, Boat of Garten and Dundee (Glassie Farm).
Each short break was attended by, on average, 8 young people with learning disabilities, allowing their parent/carers and siblings valuable time off from their caring role. We maintain the friendship groups that YP attending our after school activity clubs or other services, inviting groups together to activities they have communicated they would like, hence our variety of activities on each break. Some of the YP attended their first ever weekend break which offered families a much valued longer break than that offered on our Out and Abouts.
We work hard to ensure parents and YP alike are comfortable to come away with us and are able to do this as we really get to know attendees well through our services before we invite then on a short break. Similarly, we ensure new staff are also supported to work these short breaks, ensuring we have systems, training and the confidence in our staff team. Finding new activities that our C&YP can access is a favourite activity of our staff - children come up with fabulous ideas and our staff make it happen - we got in touch with a new organisation who offered assisted paddle board sessions which some of our young people would never have thought they could have done such an activity. We are vert proud of the connections we made to make our short breaks both successful and memorable for the C&YP attending, as well as giving parents and carers the confidence to ensure they could relax in their time off.
Parents have told us of a few things they did whilst we had their young person and they varied from nights out with friends to trips to the bingo, to Christmas preparations or just getting some time to themselves to recharge.
What SNAP (Special Needs Action Project) has learned
Delivering this project gives us an amazing insight to the needs of carers to access regular, well planned short breaks. Taking a teenager away for their first time ever away from parents is a privilege and honour and gives both child and parent a break as well as confidence that it can be done. We can only do that due to the relationships built between all parties and the fantastic staff and volunteer team we have.
Project planning and evaluation methods are vital to allow us to learn and develop.
We constantly look for new activities, so finding new providers and working with them to develop their activities in an accessible way we have found benefits them also as an organisation, giving them the knowledge and tools to expand their services.
How SNAP (Special Needs Action Project) has benefitted from the funding
Better Breaks Funding has undoubtedly allowed us to build our skills, knowledge and understanding of the children we support. The short breaks allow us to build our relationships with the young people, gaining trust as well as knowledge. This trust is not only with the young person but also their parent/carer. This in turn allows us to push individual boundaries, building confidence and self esteem. Better Breaks also allowed us to develop links with service providers as well as local community enterprises. an example being the local crazy golf provider who not only now gives us free entry for our groups, they also advertise this more widely, giving free admission to YP with disabilities. Our reputation for providing well planned activities has also grown as a result of our funding.
75 children aged 20 and under 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.
A group of teenagers told us they would like to take part in some water based activities. SNAP staff identified a new provider, Able2Adventure, an adventure activity provider for all abilities. We worked with the provider assessing the abilities of the young people attended and the support required for them to take part and have fun in the activity. Only 1 of the YP attending had done watersports before, so it was, on the whole, a new activity for everyone and they were nervous. The activity was canoeing and paddle boarding - an adventurous activity for anyone. Adjustments to some of the activities were made. Feedback from the group was so positive, with some if the more nervous YP delighted they had faced their fears and come along - they were even keen to do it again and asked their families to take them. Whilst it provided a fun, new activity for the YP attending, carers were able to use the time in ways such as supporting siblings with exam revision, catching up with housework or meeting friends.
141 carers will have a 6-hour break, relaxed in the knowledge that 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.
One young man who has attended SNAP after school clubs for many years left school during the funded period. Whilst a support plan was put in place, there was a severe lack of providers in the area who could provide the necessary support to allow his Mum time off from her caring role, which changed dramatically once he left school. By being able to provide a constant, reliable source of support to this family, Mum was able to organise her time around her sons outings with SNAP. The relationships that SNAP staff already had with both Mum and her son meant that this was seamless and allowed SNAP to identify new activities that he could take part in within the local area that Mum and her son would then also have the confidence to access together. A great success.
53 parents and carers of children who attend SNAP will have a 28 or 48 hour break whilst their children go on a ‘SNAP Sleepover’ with their friends and SNAP staff.
Fully achieved. All short breaks organised and undertaken.
There are many carers whose children access a SNAP short break who also have other children in the family with additional support needs. Being able to plan short breaks to maximise their time off - whether that be spending individual time with siblings or spouses, getting time to do housework, or simply being able to read a book; what is crucial is that the short break is planned well in advance. An example is a sleepover where we invited a YP to attend. Their parents booked a weekend away for themselves at the same time; organising for their younger child to be looked after by family, maximising their time off from their caring role. The confidence they had in SNAP mean they could travel further afield knowing that their YP would also be having a great time.
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.
As sated in case study 3 above, we continually hear from Carers that they look forward to their YP attending a SNAP short break, whether that be 6 hours or a 48 hour weekend break. These breaks are part of their SDS support plans, so it is clear that these are needs for the whole family, and that the breaks are crucial to whole family wellbeing. An example is one family who have 3 children with various additional needs. Two siblings are able to attend SNAP sort breaks together as there is only 1 year between them and they are very close. Their younger brother is in and out of hospital on a regular basis, sadly. We try to be as responsive as possible to the needs of families in general, so if we are aware that the boys sibling is in hospital we try to prioritise so that we can offer them a space. Just knowing that SNAP will do this means alot to this family, who have stated that SNAP is a "lifeline" to them.