SNAP (Special Needs Action Project)
A story by SNAP
We provided 1 and 2 night weekend breaks, as well as Saturday or Sunday outings/activities for young people aged 8 – 18 with additional support needs.
These weekends and outings provided a fantastic opportunity for our young people to socialise with their friends, have fun trying out new things and help develop life skills. Carers benefited from a much needed break from their caring role
What SNAP (Special Needs Action Project) did
We delivered 6 two night and 2 one night breaks which took place in bunkhouses, hostels, lodges and big houses. We visited Fort William, Badaguish, Findhorn and Boat of Garten to name but a few. We have been ten pin bowling, had picnics and visited beaches. We have had 'chill out weekends' with pampering sessions and late night mugs of hot chocolate as we toasted marshmallows around the BBQ. We became secret agents on one weekend and went on a code breaking spy trail.
We took our youngest ever age group away for a 28 hour break, a first for us and for the majority of the group, the first time they have been away overnight without family being there. We also successfully delivered activities on 24 Saturdays, we went to the pantomime, had a Burns lunch, went swimming, made kites, went to the cinema, went shopping and had lunch, had BBQ's on the beach, attended Wildlife parks etc.
We have tried hard to give carers as much notice as possible when breaks are happening, so they can plan theirs. Feedback from carers has told us they have made good use of their time - spending time with their spouses or other children,some carers were delighted to be re charging their batteries by simply catching upon lost sleep.
We recruited a new Deputy Team Leader in May 2014, who took on the role of Team Leader while our current Team Leader was on maternity leave. This was a big undertaking for her and supports had to be put in place accordingly to support her. It was made slightly easier because all our young people attend other services such as After School Clubs or Leisure Schemes, therefore she was able to meet and get to know most of the children before they went away for a weekend.
From the children's point of view the core staff group remained unchanged apart from the Team Leader so that made it an easier transition for them. As usual the stand out moments are always the personal achievements of the individuals that attend as well as the humour associated with any activities we do.
What SNAP has learned
We learned that we cannot stop providing these services for our carers and young people. We realise what a lifeline they can be to both. Just simply knowing that a regular break is going to happen is enough to sustain some of our carers to continue in their caring role.
Providing the weekend breaks is definitely one of the highlights for us as an organisation they take a tremendous amount of planning and preparation but the rewards are immense. It is the flexibility of how we can mould our weekends that appeals most to us, so dependent on the accommodation, location or mix of the group that we choose they can all be completely different
It was definitely challenging delivering all the services with the loss of a key member of our staff, but with the effort put in by the Deputy Team Leader and all the staff team it was achieved.
We have learnt to always have a reserve list of attendees for each activity in case of drop outs at the last moment. But although places are easy to fill for a Saturday activity it is less easy to do this with the weekend trips.