SuperTroop 2022 Holiday Activities, Entertainment and Equipment
A story by SuperTroop
Our holiday provides an exciting week-long adventure for young people with complex needs who rarely have a chance for independence away from home. Our wide range of activities encourage them to try new things in a safe and happy environment whilst their families and carers have much needed respite.
What SuperTroop 2022 Holiday Activities, Entertainment and Equipment did
With the financial support from Shared Care Scotland, we delivered our week-long annual residential holiday at Fettes College in July 2022 for 15 children with complex physical and neurodevelopmental needs; thereby giving respite to approximately 45 family members. Our holidaymakers were referred via specialist schools, social workers, charities and community groups with preference given where possible to those with the highest level of need.
The holiday’s theme was ‘space’ and the funding ensured we could provide exciting trips including a trip to the Glasgow Science Centre, The Yard (which has adapted play equipment) and East Links Farm. The specialist hydrotherapy equipment we purchased made swimming (a holidaymaker and volunteer carer favourite activity) more accessible and stimulating. Other on-site activities included a ceilidh, bouncy castle and a visit from a unicorn.
Families reported knowing that their young person was well cared for and enjoying themselves enabled them to relax, spend time with other family members including the siblings of our holidaymakers and engage in activities or trips that our holidaymakers could not participate in. For some families this included travelling to other parts of the UK.
In the run up to the holiday the funding paid for time for an administrator role to coordinate some of the holiday planning which was such an asset for our small organisation which was otherwise running solely on volunteer time.
The funding received also allowed investment in the future of the charity as it enabled us to have a team away weekend. This not only facilitated bonding and promoted peer support amongst the team, it created opportunities for production of training materials, development of workstreams for 2023 holiday planning and for identifying and working towards longer-term goals for SuperTroop.
What SuperTroop has learned
1. Reaching out to and engaging with new and existing holidaymaker families - ensuring we gathered detailed information about each holidaymaker in the run up to our holiday established (or re-established for returning holidaymakers) a vital connection with families. This enabled them to have confidence in our ability to meet their child's bespoke and complex needs. It also gave our team a greater understanding of the people they were supporting and hence raised their confidence levels too. The benefits of such engagement are tangible in the fact that new holidaymakers joined the holiday and stayed the whole week, plus family feedback that they could trust in the care on offer and hence have time to relax and unwind from their own caring roles.
2. Developing new short breaks activities - every year the activities on offer on the SuperTroop holiday are built around a theme, which for 2022 was 'space'. This therefore means that new things are tried each year amongst familiar favourites such as swimming, singsong and arts and crafts. The success of activities are discussed amongst the holiday team and inform the planning for the following year. The ideas are already flowing for 2023.
3. Dealing with unexpected challenges or opportunities - there was a holidaymaker with a health condition that would have quickly had significant negative effects if not managed properly. The team were prepared for this and a particular volunteer was matched to that holidaymaker to help support them with this condition under the guidance of our medical team. However, it became clear that this was quite exhausting for one person which could potentially lead to less enjoyment of the holiday for the holidaymaker and this helper. Hence this was an opportunity to consider how medical conditions could be managed differently in future. For this particular example a rota of senior helpers was planned for this holidaymaker for 2023 so that their Fettes student helper could just focus on ensuring the holidaymaker had fun.
How SuperTroop has benefitted from the funding
Better Breaks funding has been invaluable particularly in the following ways. 1. Without it we could not have offered our wide range of on-site activities and off-site excursions which the holidaymakers very much enjoyed and which offered them new experiences, promoted independence and facilitated time within the wider community. 2. By coming to produce a professional video during our holiday week, Better Breaks significantly enhanced our website and social media by bringing our service to life in a new way to followers and interested parties. This meant they were more likely to spread the word about our work. It was also a lovely way to show families footage of their children having a great time, not just via photos or short snippets of film. 3. Funding provision for some paid administrator time helped with the smooth running of the holiday and it reduced the risk of volunteer burnout as we had no other paid member of staff. 4.Better Breaks funding has significantly facilitated development of our small charity's operating procedures by paying for a team building and planning weekend enabling our volunteer senior team across the country to come together in person. This was with the aim of not only starting to plan the 2023 holiday but to think about the sustainability of our service by ensuring new workstreams were set up to distribute holiday planning and delivery responsibilities more evenly across the team. It led to initial discussions about the direction of the charity including careful consideration of upcoming grant applications and the need for a service evaluation to explore views of stakeholders and demonstrate the ongoing need for our service. This will allow us to refine and build on our existing model. It also gave us dedicated time to work on training materials including videos to address feedback from our 2021 volunteer helpers which was to provide more training in advance of the holiday. 5. The offer of 2 facilitated strategic planning sessions for the SuperTroop senior members and Board of Trustees was invaluable as it offered space and external expertise to help identify strategic goals with an aim to producing an action plan to grow SuperTroop and offer a wider service to more people. There is no doubt that this helped us focus on the future direction of our charity.
16 children and young people with disabilities and complex needs will have participated in a wide range of exciting activities in different places, in the company of their peers and with 1:1 support.
15 children and young people with disabilities and complex needs participated in a wide range of exciting activities alongside other holidaymakers with 1:1 support. This included both on-site activities such as a ceilidh, make up artist, bouncy castle, swimming, mobile petting zoo and off-site trips to East Links Farm, Blair Drummond Safari Park, Glasgow Science Centre and Portobello Beach. Peer relationships were built up for example one holidaymaker taking on responsibility of buying ice lollies for his peers to stay cool on a hot day and another walking with a third on excursions to support her. Unfortunately our 16th holidaymaker could not attend at the last minute due to family circumstances.
This group of young people lack the opportunity to do such activities and particularly with their peers. Although some are returning holidaymakers from previous years, two were new to all the activities on offer. Furthermore, we have never previously had a make up artist, mobile petting zoo or a trip to the Glasgow Science Centre. These activities therefore broaden the experience of our holidaymakers both in terms of range of activities and geographical location.
16 families/carer groups will have a week of respite during our holiday and report confidence in our service, giving them an opportunity for meaningful respite
We sought anonymous feedback from carers about their experience of the respite we offer to them. 100% of those who completed the survey strongly agreed that the SuperTroop holiday gave them time to spend with friends and family and private time to spend how they wanted. 100% strongly agreed that they / their family felt safe, secure and looked after with SuperTroop and also that they would recommend the SuperTroop holiday to others. As noted, unfortunately our 16th holidaymaker could not come on holiday due to family circumstances.
The feedback questionnaire completed by parents following our 2022 summer holiday showed a range of ways in which carers used the respite that the SuperTroop holiday gives them. This included a. Doing activities with holidaymakers' siblings that aren't normally possible including trips away to other parts of the UK b. Being able to make spontaneous plans c. Doing "normal stuff" that others would not find unusual e.g. going out for dinner, watching their own choice of TV programmes d. Being able to relax and not need to be constantly aware of where their child / ward is and what environmental dangers or stressors might be present e. Having a full night's sleep
Carers of disabled children and young people (aged 20 and under) will feel better supported to sustain their caring role.
In our 2022 SuperTroop holiday carer feedback questionnaire 100% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that the SuperTroop holiday gave them / their family a chance for meaningful relaxation and also that having had a break their sense of wellbeing had improved. As noted, unfortunately our 16th holidaymaker could not attend at the last minute due to family circumstances and therefore their family did not receive respite from us this year. However, that young person will be invited back next year for our 2023 holiday.
As a set of carers, 90% of respondents to our post-holiday questionnaire indicated that they felt that having a break made a positive difference to their relationship with the person they care for. Specific comments left indicated that they felt "less stressed" and "able to recharge so that when [my child] returns I'm ready to go again".
16 children and young people will have participated in various excursions and new and exciting activities, met new friends, developed greater independence and most importantly really enjoyed themselves during our holiday week
The 15 holidaymakers on our 2022 holiday included on-site activities such as a ceilidh, make up artist, bouncy castle, swimming, mobile petting zoo and off-site trips to East Links Farm, Blair Drummond Safari Park, Glasgow Science Centre and Portobello Beach. 2 holidaymakers were new to SuperTroop and so the group were all able to meet new people amongst their peers. They also made meaningful connections with their 1:1 Fettes College student helpers very much resulting in mutual enjoyment. Of the 10 families who provided post-holiday feedback, 100% strongly agreed that their child had fun on the SuperTroop holiday and also that their child would like to return in future. 80% agreed or strongly agreed that their child tried new things. One of the parents of a new holiday maker gave feedback that "I did not expect her to stay the whole week but she did and enjoyed every second."
Once again our feedback questionnaires are the source of our case study for the group of carers. One commented that they had "confidence that she can be independent" following the holiday. They also said that their young person "so enjoys the independence of being away by herself" and commented that the holiday has shown them that she needs her own space away from family as well as the family needing respite. Another family noted that their young person gets very upset when his brothers go on "sleep overs" or have friends to saty [sic] so this is his time with his friends and gives him some independence too.
Additional project outcome
Children and young people with disabilities will have played a role in their local and wider community.
All the holidaymakers were visible during activities in the local area and on trips and they were able to access activities that other children and families might take for granted. This helped the general population see their love for life and their strengths which will have challenged any negative assumptions they may have had about people with complex needs. One holidaymaker's mother fedback to us that Supertroop was a big part of her daughter developing confidence in the community and growing up into her adult life. This led, a few months after our 2022 holiday, to her working in a local cafe.