Social & Emotional Support for Deaf Children, Young People & their Families
A story by West Scotland Deaf Children's Society
We provided inclusive, understanding and fun activities for deaf children & young people throughout the West of Scotland and provided carers with many opportunities to take a meaningful break from their caring role. This project directly improved the mental health and wellbeing of everyone involved.
What Social & Emotional Support for Deaf Children, Young People & their Families did
The activities we provided were of great benefit to carers as they served a dual purpose. They provided opportunities for carers to take a meaningful break to enjoy quality 'me time', run errands, do housework, and spend time with their other children where they could give them their full attention. One parent used this time to go to the gym and attend a yoga class.
The main venue for these activities was the Adelphi Centre in Glasgow which provided a large, open space which could cater to many activities including arts and crafts, sports, challenges, science experiments and workshops, drama workshops, and party games. Additionally, we used our clubs as opportunities to develop life skills including baking/cooking, personal presentation and managing money. We also visited multiple other venues including the cinema, bowling and an inflatable/trampoline park. These activities were chosen in consultation with the deaf children and young people involved.
Overall, our project has been a huge success this year and our services remain in high demand. It was incredible to see such a high turnout for our face-to-face activities and to see the community we have built go from strength to strength. Another big success for us was the number of new families that we welcomed and to see them being welcomed into our charity by all the other carers and children.
What West Scotland Deaf Children's Society has learned
We have learned that our services are essential and to some carers and their families, we have become a lifeline. We provide a unique service and opportunities which cater to the specific needs of those involved and this simply doesn't exist elsewhere. Mainstream clubs still fail to meet the needs of those with multiple additional needs and therefore, they are inaccessible. Our charity MUST continue to provide.
How West Scotland Deaf Children's Society has benefitted from the funding
The way in which our charity has benefited from Better Breaks funding cannot be overstated. Without this funding, we could not have provided so many opportunities for deaf children, young people and their carers to come together, make friends, reduce isolation, take meaningful breaks and feel valued and respected in the world around them. Without Better Breaks funding, we wouldn't have been able to deliver such a positive impact to mental health and wellbeing and help families to keep going and face the daily challenges of deafness. This has strengthened our charity's reputation and families are signposted to WSDCS by other deaf and mainstream organisations.
94 children will have had 98 opportunities to take part in fun, inclusive activities where they will make lasting friendships, supporting good mental health and wellbeing.
We surpassed our expectations and were able to support 114 deaf children and young people through 115 opportunities to make lasting friendships and have fun. Many of these children are very isolated from the hearing world and greatly benefitted from the many chances to socialise and participate in inclusive, welcoming and supportive environments. We got to see participants relax, be themselves and have fun which in turn had a positive impact on their mental health and the wellbeing of their carers.
K joined our club, feeling isolated and alone, having never known or met another deaf person before. In fact, deafness was an entirely new thing for her whole family. K has become one of our regular attendees and it has been amazing to see her confidence and self-esteem grow. She regularly contributes to conversation and is always willing to give ideas for future activities. K has made lots of new friends, introduced her younger siblings into this new world and become proud of her deafness. She is now much happier and her Mum frequently refers to the club as a 'lifeline', stating that the team at WSDCS have saved their family.
Carers of deaf children and young people will have been afforded 98 opportunities to have a much-needed break from their caring role to pursue their own interests, tend to other aspects of their daily life and enjoy quality personal time.
Parents and carers were afforded 115 opportunities to pursue their own interests, enjoy quality 'me' time, run errands, do housework, give undivided attention to their other children and ultimately take a break from their caring role. They were able to relax and fully enjoy this respite as they knew their child/children were being looked after in an understanding, fun and inclusive environment. Carers were reassured that their child/young person's individual needs were being met. It was rewarding to see the impact this had on carers. They were happy, relaxed and able to continue thriving in their caring role. Additional feedback from parents and carers confirmed how effective, essential and appreciated this respite was. These opportunities played a key role in supporting the good mental health and wellbeing of carers.
E is a child with multiple, complex needs. Before becoming regularly involved with our clubs and events, E had no social life outside the family home and requires 24/7 care and supervision. Our trained and experienced staff are very capable in meeting these needs and it has allowed Mum and Dad to be able to have a meaningful break each week. Mum has been able to spend time with her other child and her new grandchildren while Dad has been able to attend local football games.
Through involvement at our clubs and events, carers will be able to forge and nurture strong support networks with other carers and staff. Additionally, by providing opportunities to have meaningful and effective breaks, carers will be less stressed and have good mental health.
By providing multiple weekly clubs, we have been able to nurture friendships and bonds between carers which have continued to grow stronger. The welcoming, inclusive environments we have created have allowed these interactions to develop in a natural way. These opportunities has given carers access to people with shared experiences and chances to interact with our trained and experienced staff. From this, we have developed and strengthened a community where carers feel supported and valued and open to talking about their harder days. We have also encouraged all carers to join our private Facebook group which exists as a safe, open forum for them to reach out and seek guidance and support.
We recently had a new family join us after finding out their 6 year old had lost his hearing 6 months earlier. There is no history of deafness in their family so it's a whole new world to them. Mum and Dad were struggling and unsure how to take on this caring role in the right way. After making initial contact and joining our Facebook group, they came along to one of our outings and we introduced them to the other families that attended. It was lovely to see how supportive everybody was, offering advice and exchanging phone numbers. At the end of the event, the parents came to us and could not have been more grateful. After weeks of dread and anxiety, they felt reassured and empowered to take on this caring role and support their son to thrive in a hearing world
Children, young people and their carers will be visibly happier, less stressed and less anxious as a direct result of our clubs and events. A supportive community will be established amongst children, carers and staff in which friendships and support networks can be forged.
We have seen vast improvements in the moods and mental health of those involved in our project. Carers are happy, feel supported and continue to thrive in their caring role. The children and young people involved are visibly happier and more confident. They have developed strong friendships with others with shared experiences and were able to thrive in inclusive, empowering environments. Overall, our project has positively impacted everyone's mental health. The community we have nurtured has also been thriving and everyone included has been comfortable in sharing their personal experiences and reaching out to each other for help. This community continues to go from strength to strength and has resulted in families developing genuine, lasting friendships.
Carer F and their family joined our charity very quickly after their child's diagnosis. F was upset, worried and anxious about what life was going to be like and how their child was meant to develop 'normally' in a hearing world. They came along to one of our outings and we introduced them to other carers and more importantly, the other deaf children. The family got a chance to see how amazing the other children and young people are doing and hear their success stories. Afterwards, we received lovely feedback from F about how re-assured and supported they felt.
Additional project outcome
Through our clubs and events, we improved the deaf awareness of mainstream services and other organisations. Mainstream service providers showed greater understanding of the needs of the deaf community & became more deaf aware, accessible & inclusive, leading to positive interactions with deaf people
This year we had two trips to a bowling venue in Glasgow. On our return visit, the staff could not have been more welcoming or supportive. The manager had learned some basic signs and interacted with the children and young people. They also ensured that we were put in a quieter part of the venue to allow the children to interact better and avoid sensory overload. The children and young people were made to feel welcomed and valued and just like everyone else (but with a bit of VIP treatment thrown in!)