Star Youth Club
A story by East Lothian Special Needs Playscheme/Can Do
We provided our Star Youth Club which is a specialised youth club provision for young people aged 10-18 years who live in East Lothian and who have a disability.
The club aims to reduce social isolation. Weekly youth clubs are run where the young people can enjoy age appropriate activities .
What Star Youth Club did
The charity's Star Youth club delivered two weekly youth club provisions based in East Lothian. Although we had a maximum capacity to offer 50 places across the two provisions, the quality of our provision and the specific needs of each young person are paramount and informed the number of places actually filled.
We were delighted to offer 43 places to local young people on our waiting list between our two provisions. These young people were actively involved in planning what the youth club sessions meant to them, the activities they wanted to do and their engagement in community activities. Apart from the benefit to the young people themselves, our service offered respite to the families concerned, particularly knowing that their young people were in a safe, fun, age-appropriate and engaging environment and had a door to door transport service. This provision was guaranteed for one evening per week, for each club, throughout the school term.
Our service was run with youth workers and young volunteers, generally from the local high schools, and we offered comprehensive training as and when needed. Community engagement and building inclusion is an important part of our youth clubs, whether through the volunteering opportunities, visiting and working with other local activity providers, or inter-generational activities such as Christmas carols at local older peoples facilities.
The funding received from Better Breaks has allowed our second youth club provision to become well-established and with further funding in 20/21 we are delighted that the youth clubs will be able to continue to offer fun, friendship and adventure for our young people, as well as respite for their families and build on our volunteer development, community engagement and inclusion.
What East Lothian Special Needs Playscheme/Can Do has learned
By delivering two weekly youth work provisions we have learned that the model of Star Youth Club works and is very successful. Our aim now is to keep our two weekly clubs running and to also open more youth clubs to meet our high demanding waiting list.
How East Lothian Special Needs Playscheme/Can Do has benefitted from the funding
The funding allowed us to open a second youth club provision while maintaining funding for our original club. We feel it has strengthened our reputation in the local area and has allowed us to engage with new young people and their families. This model works and is scalable to meet the demands of our waiting lists. We are very grateful to have further funding from Better Breaks in 20/21, and so the immediate future of the current provision is secured. We now plan to investigate opening a third youth club, as the demand is so high, and the benefits to the young people, their families, the volunteers and the wider community are so great.
Children and young people with disabilities (aged 20 and under) will have more opportunities to have fun, develop friendships and do activities they enjoy.
Our Youth Clubs have been running just under our maximum capacity of 50 young people. We delivered weekly sessions of youth club provision for 43 young people with disabilities throughout term time. Once a place is allocated to a young person, it is theirs until they reach our maximum age, or no longer require that space. This is to ensure all our young people derive maximum benefit for our service. Settling -in issues, specific needs and illness, have meant we haven't reached full capacity and we plan to build on the 43 spaces filled so far as we move forward. Weekly Youth work evaluation forms were used to record personal achievements for individual children each week. Weekly registers were used to gauge numbers attending. We involved the young people in setting their programmes by identifying activities, including new challenges and variation to develop new skills and confidence, whilst also enhancing existing activities and enabling socialising with their peers.
We had a new member join our youth club who was socially isolated at home. He was not attending school or any other groups. This was due to low self esteem and no confidence. He came along to youth club and has made friends, he continues to come weekly and this remains the only activity he is engaging in. His mum has reported significant changes in him and he is now talking about returning to some sort of schooling.
Carers of children and young people with disabilities (aged 20 or under) and their carers with have improved well being.
43 young people with disabilities and their carers in East Lothian can be seen as having reduced levels of stress as a result of the support provided by Star Youth Club. We know from the parents of our young people, several of whom make up our management committee, that having the routine of a guaranteed evening per week in term time that their child looks forward to, helps with anxiety at home. Providing transport, gives increased respite time for the families and reduces concern over any transport issues.
Meetings with East Lothian's Children's Disability team and school meetings have indicated that family's who were struggling are now managing with this weekly provision being in place. They are finding it easier to manage knowing they have this weekly. Allowing them to plan upfront is helping them monitor their family life.
Carers of children and young people with disabilities (aged 20 or under) will have more opportunities to enjoy a life outside of their caring role.
Carers have reported to have had more time for themselves. They have had the chance to pursue hobbies, meet up with friends, spend time with siblings, catch up on housework or complete work tasks. This has been a direct result from their young person attending star youth club. We have delivered weekly sessions of planned regular respite, this was set out in advance to allow carers to forward plan and identify breaks in caring responsibilities. We provided transport to and from the club to ensure extension of respite break, to reduce any added stress for carers.
We have one mum whose son attends youth club and she has reported that she uses this time to go to the gym and the sauna with friends. This is now a weekly occurrence for her and she explained this was helping her to switch off and have a break. She could not do this before as she would be required to be at home caring for her son.
Carers of children and young people with disabilities (aged 20 or under) will feel better supported to sustain their caring role
Carers have reported feeling more connected with other carers in similar situations, and know where and how to get advice if and when required. Many parents are finding our Facebook useful to interact and engage with other parents. We asked parents for feedback if they would attend Family fun days, the response was positive so we delivered three Family Fun Days in 2019, where carers, siblings and children with disabilities can enjoy activities together in a safe and supported environment. We provided support in the form of volunteers to support children at Family Fun Days allowing carers the opportunity to get to know each other in a familiar and friendly environment, thus developing a peer support network.
Carers are interacting through our Social media platforms. They are seeing friendship's being formed through photographs so they are then arranging to meet up with their young people. Our Family Fun days were very well attended. Feedback was very positive with families saying they usually can't go out as a whole family we allowed that so they were very grateful.
Additional project outcome
Volunteers have had an increased awareness of disabilities. We have provided various training events. With this training they have been able to support and include people with disabilities in their local communities. Questionnaires were used , asking what training they wanted to take part in.
A proportion of the young people who attend our youth clubs their families are now using our volunteers or workers to provide their families with extra buddying services and outreach. The families understand we provide very robust training and trust in the relationships formed through star youth club