SOAR Youth Project Swim/Supper Club & Saturday Club
A story by SOAR Youth Projects
SOAR Youth Projects provided social activity groups to young people with multiple support needs who live in Ross-shire. Through the use of local facilities, we enabled the young people to take part in opportunities to develop life skills, friendships and confidence while offering parents/carers regular respite breaks.
What SOAR Youth Project Swim/Supper Club & Saturday Club did
SOAR Youth Projects delivered 2 clubs to young people between the ages of 5 and 18 years who have multiple support needs. These projects included Swim and Supper club and Saturday Club. All families were sent schedules of the projects to opted for dates and activities that suited them.
Swim and Supper Club runs on a Wednesday from 5.30 to 8.30pm during term time. Each week 6 young people are taken along to Invergordon Leisure Centre to attend swimming with support from 1 to 1 workers. After swimming, the young people are taken to a local café for an evening meal with their peers.
During this time the young people enjoy social time with their peers, as well as gaining life skills including getting changed, ordering and paying for their meals which in turn increases independence and self-esteem. Swim club was successful as ever with demand for spaces more than we could supply.
Saturday Group was a pilot project developed from feedback from families/carers stating there was limited opportunities for their children to attend. Saturday group turned into Weekend Group with sessions being offered on Saturdays and Sundays. Sessions ran from 10am to 3pm and activities included bowling, cinema visits, sports days, cooking days, etc.
A challenge we faced was a loss of our minibus in an accident when an unsecure skip hit our bus and the bus was written off, Due to this event we were unable to deliver as many weekend sessions as anticipated. A new bus was sourced in March enabling us to provide more transport. In conclusion from feedback, weekend group was a success and we intend to continue to deliver the project once a month. Through feedback from families, it was very clear that weekends were a time that families required some respite time.
Through the provision of the clubs, parents stated they were able to have: time to “recharge their batteries”, to spend time with friends, spend time with siblings undertaking activities that was not suited to their child with support needs, i.e. having lunch out together, doing spontaneous activities. Time to catch up with household chores and have quality time to spend together as a couple
What SOAR Youth Projects has learned
SOAR has been able to grow and develop by delivering the needed and wanted by the young people and their families. Planning is essential to all activities that SOAR deliver. Through receiving the feedback from young people and their carers we were able to plan and budget for the delivery of the activities that are requested and needed.
Dates, activities and timings are sent to families in advance to enable them to choose the dates, activities etc. that best suit their needs. This enables us to provide the best support required for each young person on the day they attend. We are also able to ensure the families who require more support have opportunities to access the services when they need them the most.
SOAR Youth projects works closely with many partners including Social Services, families, local schools, NHS Highland, local community facilities and many more. Through the partnership working we are able to provide the best opportunities and deliver the services that are required by young people and their families. Many of our partners refer new families to SOAR for opportunities to access the services we provide.
By using local community facilities, this has enabled SOAR to assist young people to become comfortable in using these facilities. We have also found that many of the facilities are growing to meet needs of their local community for example a local swimming pool has developed in their awareness of Autism and will have quiet sessions where water jets/flumes are not turned on if it will upset the children.
As with all new projects, there were some teething problems with weekend group, as we required staff who were able to commit to weekends, we overcame this by having a recruitment session. A major challenge for SOAR this year was the loss of a minibus. SOAR has 2 minibuses which run from each end of the area we cover Tain and Dingwall, unfortunately we only had one bus to cover for 7 months until a new one was sourced in March. To overcome this challenge we used the same bus but at alternate weekends in Tain and Dingwall.
Funding continues to be a challenging task for SOAR as funding is becoming harder to source. SOAR uses a funding strategy, which enables to look a different sources of funding. SOAR will continue to apply for grants but are sourcing smaller pots of money from different funders as well as developing our own fundraising efforts.
How SOAR Youth Projects has benefitted from the funding
Better Breaks funding has assisted us to continue to deliver the services we provide as well as pilot a new weekend project. Having secured funding from Better Breaks also helped us to secure grants from other funders.
80 young people with support/multiple support needs will have participated and had more opportunities to take part in a wide variety of activities, (meeting their likes and requests for different activities), have increased opportunities to interact and develop friendships with their peers.
Throughout the year SOAR Youth Projects provided Swim/Supper Club and Weekend Group to 76 young people with support needs. Our numbers were lower than we estimated, however we did have an increase in the number of young people who required 2:1 support as well as children becoming older and unable to attend to participate in the sessions. Swim and Supper group was very popular with spaces fill each week. All the young people enjoy swimming and many of the young people increased in confidence ordering their own meals. Feedback from our pilot weekend group was very positive from both young people and their families. Activities included outings, sports, cooking, going to the cinema and bowling, creative play, cooking, crafts and much more. Through this provision, the young people were able to join in activities at their own pace. The young people were also able to develop friendships with their peers who enjoyed the same activities. Most importantly the young people had fun.
One young boy who has Autism and struggling at mainstream school with friendships. Attended weekend group and developed a friendship with another boy who lives in another town. His family and school supported him to move to another school with a specialised Autism unit, the young boy who he had developed a friendship with at weekend group also attends the new school, having his friend at the new school made the transition easier for him. They now enjoy attending the groups together and are socialising outwith SOAR and school.
291 Parents/carers of children and young people with disabilities will have regular opportunities to enjoy life out with their caring roles through the knowledge that their child is attending regular, planned activities in a safe environment.
76 young people had opportunities to enjoy experiences and activities independently, while 262 carers and families had respite time knowing their child was in a safe environment. Young people undertook activities including swimming, cooking, baking, eating out and sports. From feedback carers and their families had time to pursue the following activities, time with other family members, grandparents, grandchildren, time to do chores Time to go shopping"time to relax" Families feedback, that they enjoyed the"time"
S is 15 years old and has older parents. They are a lovely family, friendly and very sociable. However the family live in a very rural area and accessing activities is difficult and respite limited because of their location. However having regular activities including weekend group and swim club enables S's parents regular respite time. During this time they sit and watch tv, go shopping or spend time with their elder daughter and her family.
Carers will feel better supported in the knowledge that they have time to “recharge their batteries” knowing the children are in a safe environment, undertaking planned activities with high level of support.
262 carers and families had respite time knowing their child was in a safe environment. Respite time for carers varied from 2 hours to 6 hours breaks while the young people received 1 to 1 support while undertaking various planned and organised activities. Feedback from families about the respite time, time with other family members, grandparents, grandchildren, time to go out for lunch, time to do chores, time to go shopping and "time to relax" families said that they were very happy with communication from SOAR.
M is a young boy with a high level of support needs. He comes from a loving family and has a sister. M's parents are in contact with SOAR regularly and M attends Swim Club and Weekend Club. These activities enable M,s family to have quality respite time. M's parents said that they enjoy the quality time they have with M's sister and they have taken time to do activities at the weekend that they could not do when M is home, including going to see a show and shopping.
80 young people will have the opportunity to participate in activities, meet friends, take pride in activities they progress in, which in turn will develop confidence and improved wellbeing
76 young people attended activity sessions provided by SOAR Youth Projects. Swim Club has provided young people with opportunities to improve swimming participate in sport as well as gain confidence in developing friendships. Weekend club provided activities that were requested by the young people and their families but also opportunities to try new activities and visit new places. 76 young people competed in sports, went to the cinema, went for meal, went shopping independently of their family, bowling, made fantastic art creations and some lovely baking etc. The young people had confidence to feedback on their experiences as well express happiness throughout their time at each session. After attending a new soft play area, one young person wanted the directions so his mum could take him next time.
Matthew a very quiet young person who has some physical difficulties and autism, through attending weekend group, his confidence grew and he became more confident in expressing his feelings and talking to others. While at bowling Matthew took charge of the game, explaining to everyone how to set up the names, what to do and as well as being very good at bowling, he would cheer everyone on, this is a big growth in confidence for Matthew as at any other clubs he has attended he would only speak when spoken to. His family are very pleased with his progress and said that they will be sad when he is too old to come to SOAR as it has been a lifeline for them all.