SOAR Youth Projects Holiday Club
A story by SOAR Youth Projects
We have delivered high quality school holiday clubs to 61 young people with multiple support needs which they can attend independent of their parents/carers.
The young people have had the opportunity to undertake a wide range of activities including ice skating, fishing, martial arts, gaelic music, horse-riding, arts and crafts, etc. supported by a well trained highly motivated team of professional staff. Figures to date show that we have exceeded targets whilst keeping costs below budget.
We aim to offer choice through provision of a wide variety of activities and dates from which they can choose. Alongside this we aim to provide families/carers with high quality respite time achieved through providing them with a high quality and reliable service for their children, regular pre-booked hours of service, and affordable charges
Tip 1:•Listen to what people really need, and keep listening - do not assume a good formula will last forever we all have to keep evolving.
Tip 2:•Be adaptable, open to change, and able to think out of the box to find solutions to problems.
Tip 3:•Go for it! This is a very deserving client group and with careful management and risk assessment, any activity can be delivered, making a big difference to the quality of a child's life experiences and indeed family life as a whole.
One parent reports:
“I am the foster mum to a lively 15 year old with complex needs. Becoming involved in SOAR has been a lifeline for our entire family. Our young person is now able to access a variety of activities which he would otherwise be excluded from. The social aspect of SOAR is just fantastic before SOAR he was socially isolated and evenings/school holidays were a miserable time for him. Now he can spend time with friends who accept him for what he is. SOAR is absolutely invaluable to families like ours.”
Quotes received include:
"Just wanted to say big thank you to all you guys at SOAR for … making K's holidays fun and mine not so stressful";
“E. had a great time …... Means so much to families like ours to get a wee break in the holidays. Xxxx”; and
“Hi there. I used to go to Soar. …..My feedback would be that "Soar was a great place for me where I could go and be myself. Soar built some of my confidence. I'm slightly autistic and found it hard to fit in places but not in soar. It was great fun ….." K
Similarly a young man undergoing diagnosis of ASD, ADHD and ODD has an inability to concentrate, a need to be busy all the time, struggles to empathise with /tolerate others. As a result he only attends school for 3 hours a day in an isolated room. Mum has a health condition and was finding it challenging having so little respite. She really appreciated a couple of days per week when she knew her son was having fun but she could rest. Dad reported delight at the difference SOAR was making to family life.
This year young people expressed interest in ice skating horse riding and martial arts, so these were arranged, carefully risk assessed and enjoyed.
We listen to feed back and try to incorporate suggested improvements /extensions to our service wherever possible, e.g. there have been several expressions of interest in using public transport in order to help young people become accustomed to using trains/buses. So, we organised train transport to swimming.
Our group complements this by offering young people social contact groups where they can learn, relax and grow in the company of their peers. As such although our group offers many benefits such as increased friendship, confidence and fun, it also provides much needed respite which families are able to enjoy knowing that their child is in well trained hands and having fun.
C is 11 years old and has a diagnosis of ASD and ADHD. He struggles to make and maintain friendships and often does not understand social niceties. However this summer, he has begun to show some sympathy for children with higher support needs and sometimes offers them comfort /assistance.
The impact of this on our transport budget for the project would have been excessive plus the potential risk to charity reserves unacceptable. Following a project review, capital grant funding was secured for the purchase of a second bus in time for the start of the project. This has increased the operational transport costs due to the additional insurance and maintenance costs but this has been offset by a reduction in staff travel expenses as a bus is now available at all times for this purpose.
We also maintain a Facebook page which many people both families and professionals have Liked.
It is a matter of principle to SOAR that we can accommodate the needs of all children. So we ensure that staff are trained to cope with whatever conditions young people attending have, and seek training if we are faced with an issue we have not come across before. Staff are all trained in epilepsy management and emergency medication, peg feeding, etc. Where there are really big medical issues we welcome along nurses with children so that they can join in the fun. (e.g. one young man who has sophisticated breathing apparatus attached to his wheelchair).