The Teen Group
A story by Barnardo's Scotland
The Teen Group is a tried & tested weekly social event for young people with additional support needs aged 12-19. Sessions run throughout the school term with activity breaks during holiday periods.
Participants identify activities that meet their needs & interests, like music, drama, art & wider community
What The Teen Group did
The project did not go entirely to plan due to the Covid 19 pandemic and the ensuing government lock down and restrictions. We started the project on 15th September 2020 and ran until 17th December 2020. Lockdown recommenced again from January to April 2021. The project then re-commenced on 22nd April until 30th June 2021.
During the periods we delivered 23 weekly group sessions and 8 seasonal/special events. The activities were facilitated at the service base and local community where restrictions allowed. The beneficiaries of the project were 12 Children and Young People with profound and multiple disabilities, a total of 18 care givers indirectly benefited by the short break they experienced enabling them to pursue their own activities knowing that their children were having fun with their peers.
The young people were identified through referrals from a range of agencies, self-referrals and social work services Resource Allocation Group who provided additional funding to cover the overall cost of running the project. The project addressed Better Break priority areas such as complex needs, sports and leisure activities, independence, transition to adulthood and diversity.
During the period we recruited and trained sessional and volunteer staff using internal resources. We worked in partnership with strategic Leadership in Inverclyde during the January-April to ensure that vulnerable children were connected to support. This resulted in the Teen Group facilitators keeping in touch with the young participants using well- being telephone check-ins.
Seasonal activities included: Halloween Party, Fireworks night, Elf Capade at Christmas, Christmas party, Easter arts and crafts event, Pizza and Movie night and outdoor Games during school spring break and Ariel Dance.
Success was achieved using flexibility and creativity to overcome the barriers of the pandemic restrictions; for example many of the seasonal events were organised outdoors when possible. We also split the group into 2 smaller cohorts to reduce the risk in terms of observing social distancing guidance reducing the likelihood of transmission.
What Barnardo's Scotland has learned
This has been a particularly challenging year to deliver a project that we have delivered in previous years.
Developing new short break activities and dealing with unexpected challenges is where we gained the most learning.
The need to be flexible and creative to overcome restrictions has taught us to always try new activities and think outside the box to overcome barriers as well as keeping activities interesting. For example we have adapted more outdoor activities and engaged with partner agencies to provide activities that did not require close contact with the young people. The young people have developed new hobbies and interests as a result.
These include gardening, den building, and participating in the arts such as Arial Dance. We have developed our skills in planning for example splitting the group into 2 cohorts and writing method statement from risk assessments that provide clear guidance on how the group will be delivered from a practical perspective whilst observing risk.
How Barnardo's Scotland has benefitted from the funding
The group has been of benefit in developing strong partnerships, for example Inverclyde HSCP have been impressed enough with the results to part fund the project this year. We have also developed a partnership with Beacon Arts Centre to provide new activities such as 'Creatability' (Arial Dance). The Beacon Arts have proposed to involve our young people to be young ambassadors for 'Creatability' which is Youth Theatre Music Makers, Visual Arts and Creative Dance.
The young people will have opportunities for a regular break through attending activity sessions during the school holidays or as part of the weekly Teen Group. The children and young people will have the opportunity to choose and participate in stimulating activities alongside their peer group.
We achieved this outcome by facilitating 23 weekly group sessions and hosting seasonal events. This provided an opportunity for young people to interact together with peers and identify what activities they enjoyed or would like to experience.
Ben came to the service when the group was already established and was quiet to begin with. Ben wanted to deliver a Lego animation, sharing his knowledge and skills on how to create live animation to his peers. As a result Ben formed friendships with the wider group who then went on to create an animation together. Since then it has been noted that Ben has become more confident and appears to feel more comfortable in taking part in discussions and conversations with his fellow peers.
Carers will have the opportunity to have a regular break from their caring role. These breaks will take place weekly over the year and on a weekly basis during the school holidays. As a result of this break, parents and carers wellbeing will improve which in turn will improve familial relationship
We have spoken to parents weekly face to face and whilst collecting their children from the group and also via telephone check-ins during lockdown. Carers have advised that lockdown and restriction have been particularly difficult. Having the availability of the Teen group has enabled them to take time for themselves and plan to meet with their peer group as per restrictions.
One young participant of the Teen group is now walking independently after school to the service for teen group. Mum has feedback that is allowing mum more time to herself before collecting her child at the end of the session. Mum told us this has made a difference; she has been able to go a walk with friends and chat and this has been particularly valuable during Covid restrictions.
Carers will be provided with support through the provision of carer activities and training. Carers will have formed positive and supportive relationships with one another which will further support them to sustain their caring role.
This has been difficult to achieve due to the level of restrictions and guidance to prevent transmission. We were unable to provide additional sessions for parents. See example below for indication of how parents were able to connect
Due to covid restrictions, parents will wait in our carpark before young people enter for their session which is allowing parents to chat amongst themselves developing positive relationships with each other and relate to similar themes in relation to their caring role
Young people along with parents and carers will experience improved wellbeing as a result of the group. The service will be dual purpose and mutual in its benefits as it will provide a social group for children and young people with disabilities whilst giving parents a break from their caring role
Children and young people are accessing weekly group sessions and seasonal events that increase their hobbies and interests while spending time with friends. Parents have advised that their children attendance at the group provided time for their own self care.
Jill, a young person who attends the group hade been talking about how much she enjoyed it with her peers in school. This prompted another mum who's child has a disability and attends the same school to make a self referral for her child to attend the group. She advised that her child was keen to join and that it would give her some free time as a carer.
Additional project outcome
Children have increased their well-being through using the outdoor environment. The young people have developed an interest in gardening through the outdoor therapeutic play that the service has introduced as recovery from covid pandemic.
The young people who attend the group have improved our outdoor space, they have planted various pots and more recently came up with the idea to upcycle an old wheel barrow as a decorative feature (see photos attached).