Support For All
A story by Bright Sparks Play Groups
Our project was Support For All (2). The project was a continuation of a project we delivered successfully in 2020. Providing activities for children in Midlothian with disabilities. The project also provided Bright Sparks families with a short break and family activities.
What Support For All did
We delivered a short break to our registered families. The break took place at Hilly Cow Wigwams in Kirknewton. Priority was given to families who had not received a break the previous year. To ensure that the short breaks were successful we ensured that all families had the correct equipment they needed to participate and provided sleeping bags for those families that needed them. When booking we ensured that we could change the names on the booking if families were unable to attend due to having Covid.
We choose to book a wigwam stay to give families the opportunity to try a new/different type of break that they may not have chosen to book themselves for their family. The booking for the break was completed and organised by Bright Staff to take the stress and worry of potential cancellation away from the carers.
The activities we arranged over the project varied from those that were organised for the individual children with disabilities including Ryze (trampoline centre), karting, Go Ape, Edinburgh Dungeons, horse riding and bowling. Activities that were organised for all the family, included carers, siblings/young carers. Pumpkin picking, Edinburgh Christmas market, Jackson farm and Bo'ness railway.
We have a very successful (closed) Facebook page that we use to communicate with our families, each time an event is organised it is posted onto our FB page and families can indicate that they would like to take part or their child(ren) would like to take part in an individual activity. During some of the individual activities the children would be supported by our staff and the carers would have an opportunity to stay at the venue and have a coffee together.
The project has been successful this year because we have not booked any activities too far in advance. This allows us to follow the Scottish Governments guidance with regards to Covid restrictions and prevents activities being cancelled last minute due to changes in regulations.
We continue to build good relationships with companies we reserve activities with ensuring that we receive good discounted prices so that we can offer more individuals/families the opportunity to take part.
What Bright Sparks Play Groups has learned
1. That planning could not be done too far in advance due to COVID restrictions and we had to ensure all activities could be cancelled last minute and re-scheduled.
2.Families really liked the idea of the short break we organised being different to an average caravan break or hotel break. It was something they would not have considered planning that type of break themselves.
3.Paretnership working is key to a project like this, to ensure we receive good value for money and can offer as many families as possible the opportunity to access activities.
How Bright Sparks Play Groups has benefitted from the funding
The Better Breaks funding allowed us to offer a short break to families at an affordable price. The short break was also available through the pandemic and offered families the opportunity to have a break when families were not booking holidays due to the uncertainty of restrictions at the time. The funding also allowed us to organise new activities for families to try. We piloted a half day break for carers which was successful and gave us a new link with a local business to allow us to provide this type of break again in the future.
Our target of 80 carers and 80 children and young people will have the opportunity to have fun enjoying new activities/short breaks they have not experienced before with Bright Sparks.
Our target for carers and children/young people that attended our activities increased. Our Wigwam short break was attended by 57 carers and 63 children and young people. All our registered families (213 in total) have all received the opportunity to attend and activity either as a carer, child/young person, young carer or as a family. We have arranged over 20 different activities which some of our families had not attended before. For many it was a new experience for them.
It was great to spend time together doing a new activity and meeting other carers in similar situation to ourselves. Making new friends, enjoying different experiences, they loved the vintage fair ground at the Christmas Market. Events are affordable for those who are not as financially stable. Thank you Bright Sparks for organising the haunted bus tour tonight, A and I really enjoyed it. Thank you so much for this, B LOVED IT!!!!!!! Dad on the other hand will be feeling it for the next few days.
Opportunities to access activities/short breaks while restrictions are in place with COVID
We were able to achieve this outcome as restrictions began to ease during the time of the project. We ensured that all activities/short break were booked with a condition that they could be cancelled or rebooked if necessary. Bright Sparks also booked the activities/short break so families did not have the stress about booking or having to cancel and rearrange if necessary. Families have also seen a financial impact with the pandemic and the projects financial support has allowed them to still take part in activities. We know this was achieved and successful by the number of attendees at the various activities.
Getting our son out of the house, knowing he is safe at Bright Sparks. These breaks mean everything, allows us to make memories as a family that we maybe couldn't afford to do otherwise. Made it more affordable. New experiences and fun family time. Yes it was nice to have someone co ordinate the activity.
Opportunities for parent/carers to meet other families in safe environments to reduce their social isolation.
We achieved this by offering carers the opportunity to meet with other carers either without their child/young person they cared for or by arranging activities that they attended as a family with other carers there. We know we achieved this because parent/carers told us about their reduced social isolation.
Children and families feeling less social isolation and confident about going out of their homes.
We have achieved this. We know from the increased number of participants that we predicted that have taken part in the activities and short break. Families feel confident again about going out & about as we start to ease out of the pandemic. We repeated some of the activities so families felt confident about where they were going and that the environment was a safe place both in terms of COVID regulations and that it was an activity their child had previously enjoyed.
The activities we have taken part in have provided much needed opportunities for us to spend time together in environments where we are comfortable knowing there are supports available if needed. It reduced the fear of being there alone with my families safety in numbers the group experience -carers feedback on attending an activity with the support of other families (carers) being there. Getting out, meeting other bright sparks friends, having fun. Helped self esteem mental health.