Support For All
A story by Bright Sparks Play Groups
Our project was Support For All. We had planned to offer Friday and Saturday sessions at our centre for all our registered families. However, due to COVID we had to change our plans and offer activities to our families in the community.
What Support For All did
We delivered various activities over the year for our families. Due to the COVID pandemic our project had to change from offering services in our centre for families to offering all of the activities out with our centre. This meant that the majority of the activities offered where offered to the whole family, therefore included carers in the families along with the disabled child and their siblings, many who are young carers.
The activities mainly all took place locally due to travel/government restrictions at the time. The activities included venture golf, museum visits, trampoline centre, farm visits, zoo visits. Our short break activities included Moness spa, The Bus Stop, Hilly Cow Wigwams and Logierait Lodges. We used our closed Facebook page to offer the activities and short breaks to our registered families and ensured that every family that wanted to had the opportunity to participate.
Some of the activities such as the trampolining were offered to our individual groups that were already established pre-COVID. The project was successful because we only booked activities/short breaks that we knew we would receive a refund if the government legislation changed. Some of the activities we offered families had previously taken part in and had enjoyed so we offered them again.
The project was also successful because we were permitted to change the project due to the pandemic and were still able to offer activities/short breaks to our families. We also had new families join our service during this year who also benefitted from the project. All the children accessing the project have a disability, many of the siblings who attended the activities are young carers and all our parent/carers are recognised as carers for the children who benefitted from the project. We feel that our project did go to plan and was successful.
What Bright Sparks Play Groups has learned
We have learnt from this project that we are good at ensuring that we take the correct precautions to ensure that we do not loose funds when booking activities/short breaks that may need to be cancelled due to the pandemic restrictions.
We have learnt that we sometimes need to approach families individually (especially new families) to ensure that they are invited/encouraged to participate in activities that they have not come forward to take part in.
We have developed good partnership working with companies over this project, ensuring we can cancel and transfer families names etc if we need to. This has led to a continued partnership working for the future with many of the companies we have used over this project.
How Bright Sparks Play Groups has benefitted from the funding
From the Better Breaks funding we have developed new partnership working relations with holiday companies and have strengthened our relationship we already have with others. We are have developed a very trusted reputation as a charity using their facilities. (particularly with our short break relations). Also due to COVID we had to look at other venues for activities and came across a farm in the Borders that we now have a great relationship with and use regularly. (this was initially done as a pilot, then expanded). This project has shown a shift in what families during this current period of time are looking for. They want to do activities as a family and enjoy it when activities/short breaks are organised for them.
40 children over 2 sessions each week (Friday & Saturday) will have the opportunity to have fun and enjoy new activities in a safe and stimulating environment. 8 teenagers will have the opportunity to develop friendships and take part in new activities.
We managed to exceed this target, with 240 children attending activities over the project time. The figure was increased greatly because the activities that were offered were for a whole family to take part in not just our registered children due to the change of project due to COVID. The activities were enjoyed by our families and many had not taken part in the activities before. We ensured that all activities took place under strict COVID friendly/safe settings.
Feedback from our families "Visiting somewhere new" "They enjoyed seeing and playing with the animals, exploring new places and meeting other children." "The three activities that we did were the first time for our youngest child but the one they loved the best was the alpaca trek. My daughter is very hands on and loves animals, the fact that she could touch them made her day and even managed the whole hour without an iPad." "
Opportunities for support from other families
We were able to achieve this outcome because the activities we organised for families were booked so that families attended while other families were there. We also ensured for some of the activities that we had staff and volunteers available to support our families.
"Met one family at the alpaca trek and after the long winter lockdown shielding it was good to speak to someone different." (Meeting other families) "Made it more enjoyable, being able to chat to others and not fell judged." "It was nice to meet other families and chat without looks and stares from other families"
Opportunities for parent/carers to parent/carers support from each other and reduce social isolation.
We have achieved this because we have offered carers the chance to attend activities with other families. When possible with COVID restrictions we organised an activity each week for our children or family activities. We also arranged varies short breaks over the time of the project. Unfortunately, due to COVID restrictions we could not offer as many individual social activities as we had planned for carers. Arranging activities/short breaks through the pandemic also supported families/carers to reduce their social isolation.
Feedback from our families: "Family fun together, reduced isolation, new experiences with the children" "Getting out as a family - refusing social isolation. Being in nature, relaxing and unwinding, meeting other people"
Children and families feeling less stressed and anxious while taken part in activities.
We have achieved this. We know from the feedback from families that they have really appreciated the activities that we have organised over the pandemic. They felt confident that the activities we organised for them were COVID safe environments. We have been extremely fortunate that we have used the same staff and volunteers over this project while in the pandemic. All activities were pre planned and were only booked if places could be cancelled and transferred, this ensured families did not need to be concerned or worried about cancelling last minute for health reasons etc. We repeated many of the activities because families/children told us they had enjoyed them.
"We met other bright sparks families at the Alpaca trek and I think it helped make me more relax that we were in an accepting/friendly environment." "Yes we did(met other families) and was great for the kids to socialise with other kids made it more relaxing for the parents as the kids kept each other amused. "Bright sparks is a fun sociable place where my child can meet friends and not fell judged or less important than anyone else. As a carer it is good to meet other parents and chat about things and fell relaxed in company.