Summer Fun at REACH
A story by REACH Lanarkshire Autism
Summer fun for REACH families, with a trip to Blackpool, outdoor fun at Wiston Lodge and Sensory Sessions at the Sensory Hub.
What Summer Fun at REACH did
We organised a trip to Wiston Lodge for our families to engage in outdoor fun activities in small groups of 12. We also had sessions at the Sensory Hub for children with higher support needs. And also arranged a 3 day trip to Blackpool with our families. These activities were undertaken between 28th and 30th June.
At Wiston and the Sensory Hub parents were invited to come along and participate with their children. For Blackpool full families travelled on the trip. We had trained staff members in place at all activities so families could rely on support if needed. Families were chosen who hadn't been on break with REACH in the past.
What REACH Lanarkshire Autism has learned
Important to target families who need the support, children who wouldn't get opportunities to go on a family holiday due to things like finances or parents mental health, this project has taught us to take this into consideration.
Reaching out to new families was very important as a lot of families had joined us just before COVID and didn't have the chance to interact with other families or come to anything provided by the charity.
Dealing with new challenges was a huge issues with COVID restrictions, we had originally booked 2 coaches for the trip, however most people preferred to drive. We also hired the conference room which was to be used for families who needed support in the evenings, or would like to mix with other families to get to know them.
The hotel only permitted 2 households in the conference room, so we had to think outside the box, the beach was right outside our hotel so we bought some beach toys and buckets and spades and the children could play with children from other families in the evening, and the parents could chat to other parents while maintaining Government social distancing rules.
How REACH Lanarkshire Autism has benefitted from the funding
This funding allowed many children with Autism to have a short break with their families or go along to an activity to engage with other children. This allowed new and existing partnerships to be strengthened to be made with the hotel, Pleasure Beach, Wiston Lodge and The Sensory Hub. We were able to invite lots of new families to the trip and activities. Families feel confident in attending other activities provided by the charity.
At these activities families had a chance to engage, children and adults made new friends, families swapped numbers to meet up again and were more confident attending new activities knowing other families and children recognising their friends.
This outcome was very positively achieved. Lots of opportunities arose from these activities for the children, while engaging in activities and having fun with friends.
One parent asked me to make contact with another after the Blackpool trip, to pass on their contact details to arrange a meet up with the parent and child, this trip has provided opportunities for that child to make friends after playing together on the beach. Due to COVID we could only have 2 households in the conference room so we arranged for the families to meet on the beach. The children had great fun and wanted to meet up again. Children with autism can become isolated due to their anxiety, this was a great positive experience for these children.
Carers came on the Blackpool trip, they enjoyed themselves too, they had a short break in a really nice hotel, could go on the rides at Blackpool with their children, have fun and enjoy their break. This break will provide them with a fun exciting few days away from home to enjoy with their child.
This outcome was achieved, every parent who attended Blackpool had a great time with their families.
One of the parents explained she hadn't been on holiday for 3 years before the Blackpool trip, she was so thankful for this opportunity to take her son away and have fun with him. The parent had an older child on the Autism Spectrum, but she said she wanted to come to Blackpool with her son to spend time alone together as they never usually get that. This allowed them both to have fun together.
Families will feel supported by other families and staff members, and have the confidence to go on a group holiday with other members of the charity.
Parents were able to take their children on a short break, along with other families, and receive full support from staff members if needed. A break away from the day to day caring roles allowed them to relax and have fun with their families and enjoy a couple of days break.
One parent said she would have never attempted a trip like this on her own without the support of the charity, she has two children, one with a diagnosis of Autism. It meant so much to her to come away with other families where she wouldn't be judged and have support for her son from trained staff if she needed it.
The Blackpool trip will give everyone a well deserved break and boost and allow families to make new memories with their children.
Families were very appreciative of the opportunity, they enjoyed coming to a place where they normally wouldn't have chosen. New experiences for both children and parents will be enjoyed and children will remember this for years to come
One of the children on the trip had a diagnosis of both Autism and anxiety, and really struggles going out and going to school. He felt safe with his family in Blackpool knowing his parents were on hand to help. This child also spoke to a staff member about his anxiety, and the staff member told him she had anxiety too. They had a chat about it and she could see the boy feeling more relaxed in her company. During the trip the boy was able to come and speak to the staff member. In the future he will hopefully attend more activities with us where he can engage with others and have fun based on the positive experience he had on the trip