Staycation Solution Breaks 2021
A story by REACH Lanarkshire Autism
REACH Lanarkshire Autism is a charity that provides support for children, Young People and families across North and South Lanarkshire pre and post diagnosis. We offer a wide range of activities for children and young people as well as providing family support for parents and carers.
What Staycation Solution Breaks 2021 did
We delivered various activities using the short breaks grant, such as our family break to Blackpool our summer programme to Blairdrummond Safari Park, Briarland Farm, Five Sisters Zoo and Baltic Street Playground, we also where able to provide activities for our teen groups to Pinkston Watersports as well as Winston Lodge in Biggar. These took place between summer 2021 & summer 2022.
Our members are the people who benefited from all of the above and we where able to identify families through our family support worker. This year we made it a lot fairer for members to access the short family break and only allowed families to go who had not been able to attend previously so that all our members benefited from these sorts of short breaks. Our staff team went through a revamp and all new sessional and volunteer staff and current volunteering staff undertook two full days training session as well as ongoing training through out the year for activities - all staff took part in child protection training delivered by Youth Scotland. We addressed all Better Break priorities which we pledged to do. We provided opportunities for families who have children aged under 5 by providing outdoor and active leisure activities as well as helping teens transitioning into adulthood and provided services where they could feel independent. We done this through our trips and giving parents and carers a break in the evenings on our short break.
I think one our success stories would be transitioning into adulthood as a few of our young people struggled to be independent previously but with help and support it boosted their confidence when we ran trips that only involved them from signing up to actually coming along to the activity by themselves using public transport and meeting staff at the activity.
We also had great feedback from a parent who said their family felt socially isolated before and never dreamed of being able to take their family on holiday as they always had the fear of other peoples judgement, but coming along on the short break it opened their world to new opportunities. We did hit a bump in the road as we had to change to Blackpool rather than flamingo land due to cost.
What REACH Lanarkshire Autism has learned
* Targeting families most in need of support and engaging with new and existing members.
* Dealing with unexpected challenges and opportunities .
* Project Planning and Budgeting.
* Partnership Building.
How REACH Lanarkshire Autism has benefitted from the funding
* It helped strengthen the services that we already provide. * It helped us develop new partnerships with other organisations. * It helped us develop new support groups. * It definitely helped us expand our skills and knowledge. * It has helped us identify new funding sources.
Involvement from our children and young people will increase within our regular activities whilst they gain new skills and confidence by participating in group planning with their peers.
This was achieved by implementing a new consultation process and having more of a youth led discussion around activities that they wanted to do and what they would like to achieve. This took part in the form of discussion, art and play. We asked the young people to show us what they would like to do at the beginning of august 2021 and was then passed onto the manager and activity coordinator to make sure it was implemented into the years activity plans. But it was also reviewed and accessed every few months and staff where asked to now fill in a new reporting form at the end of each session.
Case Study Outcome 1: All activities previously decisions where made by parents and staff. The reason for changing this was children and young people where becoming bored quite regularly and it was causing them discomfort and increasing behaviours at groups specifically our teenage groups. The staff team got together discussed how this could be improved and decided we would take a youth led approach. The children and young people are not defined by there disability and we believe that they should have been given the opportunity like other youth groups to have a youth led environment. This increased our activity engagement across North and South Lanarkshire and increased our numbers at activities and decreased social isolation. We provided more social and sports activities across the Lanarkshire area.
The provision of regular activities will be continued and the development of new services which will allow parent/carers to have a short break from their demanding roles as carers.
All targets where met for this outcome. Parents and carers where given the opportunity at trips, activities and short break to meet other parents and form social networks in which they could discuss and support each other during difficult times. We now have over 19 active regular groups and hoping to expand, we also now have parent/carer sessions in which parents can meet up relax and enjoy a bit of quiet time which has helped our families greatly. We have also taken on holistic approaches to help support parent/carers and offer well being activities for them to meet up with parents and just relax and they have the choice not to discuss things if they just need a day to relax and not worry about barriers that they are facing.
Case Study 2: Blackpool and Well Being Parent A: Has been having a difficult time with Child A. Parent A has been feeling socially isolated for a very long time and has not been able to have time to themselves as they have always cared for Child A and don't have the greatest support network. Parent A and Child A was identified by the family support worker that needed a short break. Parent A was hesitant about coming along to Blackpool as they where worried about Child A's behaviours but the family support worker told her not to worry about this as they would be in the company of other families who can empathise with them and will have a great support network around them from staff and families. Parent A and Child A signed up to go along to Blackpool and had a fantastic time. Parent A now attends well being groups at REACH on a regular basis as well as Child A attending activity groups on a more permanent basis. Parent A has advised that there lives have completely changed for the better and can't thank REACH enough for giving them the help and support and opportunities.
The mental health and wellbeing of the parent/carer are improved as a result of feeling better supported do cope with their caring role.
We now run weekly workshops for parents and carers as well as wellbeing groups, during this time we gather feedback and do online regular surveys that they can fill in at anytime to tell us where improvements need to be made. We have provided PDA Training, Girls in Autism Training, Understanding Autism, Makaton, and Teen Life Living With Autism and training with Chris Bolerno to help parents and carers in their daily lives this has been achieved by parents giving us feedback on what they needed through surveys etc. Parents and carers now meet up outside our groups and have arranged walking groups and play dates with each other.
Case Study 3: Family Suppport Group: All who had been attending had never received any relevant training or understanding of their young peoples diagnosis and where finding it really hard to come to terms with some behaviours etc. We asked them to fill in a survey of what kind of training they would need. Once we gathered all feedback we provided the training and groups that they requested. Now parents and carers feel more confident and understanding of behaviours and their child's diagnosis.
Children and young people living with additional support needs will form new friendships while gaining new skills and gaining more confidence with their peers who are in a similar situation to them. They will be able to connect while sharing common interests, thus enabling them to share experiences.
Children and young people have been actively encouraged to take part in all aspects of the groups they attend but have been asked to actively contribute to decision making and planning of all activities. This has now given us the opportunity to become a more youth led environment when it comes to activities involving young people introducing ways to allow them to have a voice and a say this was achieved by consultation processes and evaluation. It has allowed REACH's groups to expand and grow and we have seen a growth in attendance and we now have 19 active groups throughout the year and hope to expand further.
Case Study Young Person A Young Person A joined REACH Lanarkshire Autism in 2017 when they where 14 years of age, young person suffered from Anxiety when joining REACH and relied on parents to take them to activities with REACH and out with REACH previously. They would have to be encouraged to take part in all activities previously and was quite shy to begin with. The success of this young person has grown drastically over the years and has even commented to staff how happy they are that they joined REACH, they now are able to sustainably take control of coming to groups on there own and actively participate in getting to and from outside activities such as the cinema and travelling to college themselves because of the confidence they have built up by coming to REACH. They now have confidence to help others informed choices within the 16+ Group and actively attends training opportunities that REACH has offered our 16+ young people to take part in and feels comfortable and included in making choices regarding the 16+ Group. The young person started to volunteer with REACH in January and has now taken on a sessional workers role within REACH.
Additional project outcome
We will have a stronger base for monitoring and evaluating our services and meeting the needs of more of our members. Making our services stronger and more accessible to as many families as need.
Charity Case Study: The Charity had a huge change over in staff, two new project managers within a year and a half, sessional staff leaving and having to recruit new staff and a new family support worker. Staff worked with the board to look at how we could improve our monitoring and evaluation as this was lacking. All staff where trained on monitoring and evaluation and new processes were implemented. Staff are now fully trained on how to do a case study and to follow monitoring and evaluation processes. Staff have also received training on Shanarri indicators and are able to implement these when evaluating and reporting on each child's individual needs. Over all staff are now more confident in their roles and are working effectively and more efficiently.