The Yard Youth Clubs
A story by The Yard
We delivered Yard’s Youth Clubs, which are three respite clubs that occur on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday evenings.
The clubs are specifically for disabled teenagers to make friends, have fun and gain self confidence, whilst providing their carers with a break once a week for 48 weeks of the year.
What The Yard Youth Clubs did
The Yard has facilitated three youth clubs for disabled young people on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday evenings. These clubs run for 2.5 hours 48 weeks a year and we have successfully run all the clubs this year with no cancellations. The clubs are specifically aimed at disabled teens between 13-18 yrs and each session is either held in our Edinburgh centre, or offsite as the club are out on a trip.
These clubs have given 76 carers the opportunity to gain respite, allowing them some time to themselves where they can see friends, exercise, or relax in the confidence their child is well cared for and enjoying themselves. E.g. one carer has taken up badminton during the respite break; this has increased their well-being, helped them make more friends and lessened their social isolation.
The clubs have been running for a number of years and this year has been another successful year. We have developed our evaluation more to enable the young people and the carers to have as much say as possible, regularly asking for feedback and their opinions, as well as coming up with ways of gaining evaluation through other methods to ensure we are inclusive. We have also extended our range of activities in house and externally, this has largely been due to our extended evaluation with the young people.
Our project addressed a number of Better Breaks priority areas including, complex needs, independence and transition to adulthood. They did so by working primarily with young people who have multiple complex needs at an age where they are transitioning from being teenagers into adults. The range of activities and sessions are key to aiding in this transition and providing them with the life, social and emotional skills to gain more independence.
What The Yard has learned
Three small examples of things we have learnt running our youth clubs are, listen to everyone involved as this is an youth club that is shaped by everyone, our carers, young people and play team all play a part within the creating of each youth club session. This helps to ensure that every session is facilitated well, everyone’s opinions are listened to meaning everyone is happy and carers are confident in what their child is getting out of the sessions.
That No idea is a bad idea, as we extended our evaluation to increase the amount of time we ask our young people about what they would like to do at club we noticed that ideas were incredibly varied. However with determination and a little bit of imagination any idea can be done and usually the wackier the idea the more fun had at the youth club! E.g. giant hungry hippos…
Make sure your funding sources are varied and well planned, we have found that having a varied pot of funders funding our clubs has made us more confident about their longevity as we are not reliant on one sole grant.
How The Yard has benefitted from the funding
The Yards youth clubs for disabled teens have been incredibly lucky at securing funding from Better Breaks for a number of years. This has allowed us to gain leverage funding, and has strengthened our organisations reputation as other funders and statutory services can see that we have been able to secure funding from a reputable and well thought of funder. Furthermore, it has meant that we have been able to run the service for many years, allowing us to aid young people and carers on what is often a slow and difficult journey of transitioning from being a young person to an adult.
48 disabled teenagers will have had the opportunity to make friendships and have fun in a supported setting whilst also participating in activities with their peers.
This outcome has been achieved as we have provided 48 disabled young people with the chance to make friends and socialise within a youth group. Our play team, who aid with facilitating the sessions, help to support the independent attendance of the teenagers and will often be a conduit for new members to gain the confidence to talk to and interact with others. The three groups have had many opportunities to participate in activities with their peers, including: bowling, swimming, cinema trips, train trips to the beach, cooking activities, craft nights e.g. Doodles, and film making evenings. Within a months plan of activities there is always something for everyone in the group to ensure that everyone’s specific tastes are met and ideas come to fruition.
Lisa is mum to Tom, aged 17, who has Downs Syndrome. Tom started coming to The Yard’s Thursday Teen Club when he was 14 and has been a regular member ever since. They also occasionally attend the special events at The Yard, most recently coming to our annual Bonfire Night celebration. Lisa explained to me how the Teen Club has helped both Tom and the whole family, “We first heard about The Yard through friends and other parents but never used it regularly until Tom came off the waiting list for the club and started attending. The Yard’s Thursday Teen Club came at such a good time as I was looking for more social groups for Tom to attend" "We tried to access respite services through social work but after going through a huge procedure we found out we weren’t eligible. I was so relieved when Tom started coming to the Teen Club. Tom now comes every week and doesn’t like to miss it. On the way here tonight, he spontaneously said “I love The Yard!” “Tom loves hanging out with his friends at the Teen Club. It has such a relaxed, welcoming and friendly atmosphere where he really feels part of something. It gives me peace of mind to know that Tom has something social to go to during the week. There aren’t many other clubs he can attend and he doesn’t have friends coming round to the house unless it is organised through parents. But at The Yard he has a group of friends. We have recently been matched with another member of the club, Frankie, and his parents as we live close by each other. We share lifts to The Yard and Tom and Frankie’s friendship has grown stronger because of the club Tom even went to Frankie’s birthday party recently.” “I used to get sad thinking about Tom’s lack of social life but The Yard has been a real lifesaver and has made me feel much better. The club gives me time to do other things and since we have been sharing lifts with Frankie’s parents, I have even more respite time. The Yard has also helped the whole family. When Tom first started the club, his sister was still living at home and it meant we could spend more quality time just with her. It is also good just having space for ourselves a couple of hours a week. Tom is very happy at the club and seeing him happy helps everyone in our family!”
76 carers will have 120 hours respite a year where they are able to relax and improve their mental well-being, thus ensuring they are better supported and equipped to sustain their caring role.
We have been successful in providing 76 carers with 120 hours of respite over the year. We have spoken to many carers to understand how they are using their respite, and how they believe they are benefiting from it. Interestingly many of our carers have taken their respite time to spend one to one time with their other child/children, as they find the majority of their time is spent caring for their child with a disability. Carers believe this does help them to sustain their caring role as they feel less like their time is dominated by their disabled child. Other carers spend their respite time having time to themselves whether it be exercising, having a coffee alone, or meeting up with friends. We have also been able to link carers with one another; this has provided extra respite time as carers do less pick ups and drop offs, in one case this extends one carers respite time by 90 mins.
Mum Monica and daughter Lauren have benefited from the Thursday youth club for a number of years. Monica chats about her experience, “The Yard has been both life-saving and life-changing and we feel like we belong here. It meant I was able to cope when Lauren was younger. It gives Lauren the freedom to play, run, jump, paint, trike everything a child should have all in a safe and friendly environment." "Now that she is a bit older, Lauren loves coming to the Thursday Teen Club and socialising with her peers. On the way home she beams from ear to ear. The club also gives me some time to myself which is always important.” “The Yard has given me so much over the years and other parents/carers who use or used The Yard became my best friends. The club respite gave us time to sit together and laugh there was so much humour and we learnt to laugh at ourselves." "As mainly single parents, we couldn’t meet up any other way so The Yard gave us the unique and wonderful opportunity to spend a whole time together whilst the kids enjoyed themselves in such an accepting environment. It also meant Lauren could play independently and didn’t need me to be involved which was great for her.”
48 disabled children and 76 carers will have access to time to be independent of each other, allowing for opportunities to experience new things, gain respite and socialise, thus improving their self-confidence and self-esteem whilst lowering social isolation.
We believe we have been very successful in this outcome. Whether it be a big or a small difference our play team can see all of our young people having improved self-confidence and self-esteem. Many of our young people are now able to come into clubs independently, others have made a number of new friends. These are just some of the areas our team have seen improvement, more participation, and willingness to join in and give their ideas for new sessions are other ways we have seen our young people grow. In all feedback, we have seen examples of how carers are gaining respite and the opportunity to do new things, plus learning about how they believe their young people are using their new found confidence outside of their Yard youth club session, for example one carer remarked on how willing her young person was now to go on family excursions, in comparison to in the past when their would have been a behavioural outburst.
“The Yard has helped Owen in so many ways. He has become more sociable and interacts well with the others here. The Monday Teen club has also been useful for dealing with his transition into adulthood and adult services." "The staff are amazing with regards to Owen’s sensory needs and communication as Owen is non-verbal so communicates through sniffing and always has toothpaste tubes with him and the staff have adapted excellently to this." "At the Monday club, Max is especially good at interacting with Owen and the other young people understand his communication as well. The activities and resources are great for him and his development he especially loves the swing and the bubble machine. His skills are continuously developing, especially in regard to sounds as he now asks members of staff for certain sounds." "When Owen was younger he couldn’t go to parties or large events as the music was too loud or there were too many noises for him to cope with. However, hearing music at The Yard in a controlled and familiar environment means that he is used to music and dancing. Now he is last off the dance floor!”