The Butterfly Club
A story by The Butterfly Club
We provided a summer club for children/young people with severe learning disabilities by working in close partnership with a third sector organisation to deliver an impressive activity program in a fun and safe environment whilst providing carers with much needed respite.
What The Butterfly Club did
In order to prepare for the summer, we worked in partnership not only with Cornerstone, our third sector organisation, but also with the Head-teacher and staff of both Schools, a representative from North Ayrshire Council and with a team at Ayrshire & Arran Health Services to ensure all support staff and volunteers benefited from the specialised training which included, Management of Challenging Behaviour, Moving & Handling, Autism Awareness, Epilepsy Awareness, Emergency/rescue medication protocols, gastro feeding, Paediatric First Aid including CPR etc and ensured child specific training also took place which gave the families confidence that their child would be fully supported and gave staff the confidence to deal with any issues or behaviours.
Due to the complex learning disabilities and medical issues, our children all required a minimum of 1:1 support, many need 2:1 and our intense 5 day training program reflects this. Staff feedback suggested increasing the days which we will do next year. We were involved with all aspects of planning the summer club including interviewing staff, identifying the training program based on the support and health care needs of the children and compiling a full activity plan for the five week duration of the summer club with rainy day contingencies.
We ran staff training from Monday 2nd July-Friday 6th July followed by our five week holiday club from Monday 9th July-Thursday 9th August for 28 children/young people with a family fun day on 10th August. The children were split into 3 groups (group 1 5-8 yrs, group 2 8-12 yrs, group 3 12-18 yrs) with each child/young person being offered 8 full 9:30am-3:30pm days over the summer. we hope to increase this next year if funding allows.
We drew up activity plans with a range of fun, creative and educational activities to help develop physical, social and emotional skills. Activities included tubing, go carting, soft play, speed boating and Ayr Farm Park, all were a huge success! By meeting the needs of the individual children and young people, we allowed them to play, learn and develop freely in a well supervised, safe environment, and gave carers a much needed break!
What The Butterfly Club has learned
You can't plan enough!! Whilst we ask at the beginning of each year who would like to attend the summer club we always have a few late additions, often referred to us through social work. These can put a lot of strain of the recruitment process. We have asked social work to highlight any potential families who may need extra help with forms etc so we can personally make sure the families which need the break the most get a space.
Attracting new families can often be hard, due to the care needs of of our Butterflies parents/carers can be reluctant to trust others with children or feel they are too much to deal with. We pride ourselves on our robust training schedule but nothing compares to getting to know your child. This year we had an open meeting in the school where staff and families were able to meet before pairing to get a feel for the staff and Butterflies and to let parents/carers ask any questions to make them feel more comfortable. On top of this both school and home visits were carried out to meet the Butterflies in different settings this can help alleviate parents/carers worries.
Funding is always a struggle as we need to have all funding in place well before recruitment even begins, and are constantly looking out for new funding sources. We have learned that as soon as the club finishes for the summer its time to start fundraising and applying for grants for next year.
How The Butterfly Club has benefitted from the funding
This funding certainly helped to make our club one of the best years yet as we had more outings and less school based activities which makes it all the more enjoyable and stimulating for our Butterflies.
Children and young people with disabilities (aged 20 and under) will have more opportunities to have fun, develop friendships and do activities they enjoy.
Our Butterflies were split into 3 age appropriate groups to give them the chance to built friend ships with peers. Support staff are allocated Butterflies based on skills but also personalities, for example a music teacher was paired with a Butterfly with a keen interest in music and dancing, this makes it easier for friendships to emerge.
The Butterfly club this year has been Jacks happiest yet, so excited on the journey to get there and couldn’t get in quick enough, Jack had a new support worker this year and the relationship between them was fantastic to watch, so good I have now employed him as a support worker for home. Jack was joining in activities that normally he wouldn’t due to the trust he had in his worker, knowing how happy he was made it easier for myself to relax and get some respite and to spend time with my daughter, as going out all together as a family can often be very stressful. The summer holidays can be very long for Jack so to have something to really look forward to makes it so much easier, he was actually counting down the days to his next visit. Such a great service.
Carers of children and young people with disabilities (aged 20 and under) will have more opportunities to enjoy a life outside of their caring role.
The summer holidays can be very long and repetitive, we provided variety in a fun and safe environment which allows carers to relax and actually get break whist their Butterfly is socialising and having fun.
What does the Butterfly Club mean to us? Fun, laughter, break from the norm. Gives us as a family much needed respite during the long summer holiday. Alfie loves the staff and being out the house away from the usual routine. Alfie is always excited to go along and his sister loves the family fun day at the end. She loves to quiz everyone on what they have been doing. Alfie always comes home exhausted after club, definitely keep him busy and I get a much needed break or a chance to catch up with things at home knowing he is completely safe, happy and having the best time.
Carers of children and young people with disabilities (aged 20 and under) will feel better supported to sustain their caring role.
By receiving a proper 6 hour break 8 times over the holidays carers will be better placed both emotionally and physically to cope with their caring role.
Emily is very challenging and requires constant interaction and supervision, the summer holidays can put a lot of pressure on us as a family as she takes up so much of our time. Emily loves getting out and about and has particular enjoyed the activities at the club this year making it so much easier for me to drop her off knowing how much fun she will have. She's has build up a lovely relationship with her support staff, one of which continues to support her out with the club. I can relax and spend time going swimming or out on the bikes with my boys which are things that are just not possible when Emily is with us, I feel much happier knowing all my children are having fun. Emily loves going to the Butterfly Club, we would be lost without it!
Children and young people with disabilities (aged 20 and under) and their carers will have improved wellbeing.
By providing respite for both the carers and our Butterflies we have developed their independence away from the family unit which in turn leads to greater well being for both Carers and Butterflies.
My son loves going to the club, he gets so much out of it being 1-1 which I can’t always offer him in the house because of his siblings. I love seeing what he has been up to in his daily diary and he is always full of smiles when I talk about the club. I feel a can relax when he is at the club knowing he is having fun with his friends and I can concentrate on my other kids doing things with them. I’d like to thank all the committee and staff for all their hard work in making the club possible.
Additional project outcome
Support staff will be fully trained and be able to further their careers.
I have loved my time at the Butterfly Club, not only have I gained knowledge from the training I received but I’ve also gained valuable experience from actually working with and getting to know the kids. It has been so rewarding and it has confirmed that this is the career path I’d like to follow. Since the club finished I’ve continued to work with 2 of the familes as a personal assistant as part of their self directed support packages. I would love to return again next year