SOAR Out of School Groups
A story by SOAR Youth Projects
We provided Out of School Groups for children and young people with multiple support needs living within the rural Ross-shire area.
The groups were held in local leisure centres and community venues and provided activities and social contact, our group enabled young people to increase their social skills, while offering regular breaks for parents and carers.
What SOAR Out of School Groups did
SOAR Youth projects recruited 8 new sessional staff and 2 new volunteer minibus drivers throughout the past year following our recruitment processes. Families were sent information regarding all activities that SOAR were offering. Parents and young people were then able to make informed choices regarding the activities the young were going to participate in. Activities for Youth Club and Holiday Clubs were chosen through feedback from Youth Club Sub Groups and feedback and evaluation from young people and their families.
During the past 12 months SOAR have delivered 129 sessions of activities which included, swim/supper club, average of 6 young people in attendance each session was run on Wednesday evening with swimming taking place in Invergordon Leisure Centre and tea was provided by local cafes from 5-8pm. Youth Club, average of 15 young people attending each session, was held in The Place on Alness, every Thursday evening from 6.30-8.30pm and Holiday Clubs, average of 13 young people attending per session at St Duthus School in Tain, Mondays to Friday 9.30am -3.30pm.
Activities have included, outings to forests, beaches, fishing, cycling parks, local leisure centres, museums. Sports including, cycling, swimming, running, football, bowling, horse-riding, pool and darts. Focus days including, baking, sensory, “make your own lunch day” “SOAR has Talent” tea party day, Halloween party. Others include, creative movement, crafts, arts, model making. A residential trip for Youth Club using feedback from young people regarding where, when and what they would like to do. (Very successful outing.)
During breaks families and Carers provided feedback on how they spent their time which included, time allowed families to spend quality time with other children, parents enjoyed the respite time and found it valuable. Some parents and carers fed back that they used the respite time for treats including visits to hair salons and having manicures done. One foster parent has taken up running.
Tyler’s mum also feels that Tyler can be himself with no worries as to how others perceive him. Tyler was very keen to join youth club and attended the first session he could the day after his 12th birthday. When attending the clubs, Tyler's mum catches up with chores and also spends quality time visiting Tyler’s grandmother who has dementia
While attending activities, Andrews family enjoy the one to one time they have with his younger brother.
The family choose activities that are geared to Alex's likes, he is comfortable with the staff and staff know him well, which enables his family to relax and be comfortable knowing that Alex is safe and well.
While Alex attends clubs, his parents enjoy time doing "normal stuff " with his siblings. They use the time to meet and catch up with friends socially. Alex's mum also take advantage of the time to catch up on daily chores which is difficult when Alex is there.
Quote" We can do all of this with total peace of mind as SOAR staff know him well and can care for his complex needs which gives us as parents a level of comfort." Alex's mum.
What SOAR Youth Projects has learnedThe fund has enabled us to continue to meet the needs of young people, parents and families, through the provision of out of school clubs throughout the year.
Through even more feedback from the young people and families we have been able to offer activities that the families request at times that meet the needs if the family.
A challenge we faced last year was transport, we use 2 minibuses to offer transport to children who do not live near the activity venue. The buses were very old and in need of replacement, having reliable transport is essential to out groups, However we were lucky enough to source funding to but 2 brand new mini buses which has enabled us to provide reliable transport once again.