Young Adults Creative Breaks (Aged 21-35 Years)
A story by Buddies Clubs and Services
We provided four breaks at various locations throughout the UK for our young people affected by disabilities, so that they could pursue their interests and have fun together with a group of their friends and peers.
They were supported by our staff giving their carers some well-needed respite. The breaks were for 5 days and 4 nights away.
What Young Adults Creative Breaks (Aged 21-35 Years) did
We first select the location and the staff members who will take part in the break and then our manager holds a meeting with the staff to see which of the young people the activity/location would be most suitable for. We then contact with the families to see if the break suits their schedules and then arrange meetings with the families to discuss activities, needs, accommodation, food requirements.
Our staff also communicate with the young adults on a regular basis through our other services. The young adults are also involved in the planning of days, meals and affords them the opportunity to live as independently as possible whilst they take part in the short breaks, because of this grant we have been able to organise four Creative Breaks between October 2015 and September 2016 to Badaguish, Glencoe, Blackpool and Ardentinny.
These breaks were all for five days/four nights. Each of these breaks offered very different things to do. These included a night pebble trail with torches, canoeing , climbing, team-building, mountain train trip, forest walks and sledging, The Blackpool Tower, Circus, Zoo, Madame Tussauds , girls shopping trips, swimming, orienteering, meals out, party discos and many other things.
While the young people were busy the carers found time to relax and have time to themselves. Mainly they spent the time together for meals or a cinema visit for a film THEY chose! And in some cases managed to see friends they had not had time to visit for many years. It is interesting to note that while the young people wanted a fairly busy time the parents/carers needed the opposite. Just time to enjoy each other and some friends with no need to have any strict timetable.
This is why these breaks are so important for our older parents and carers who are under immense pressure to find very active daily/weekly programmes for their young people and many feel they can no longer sustain this immense level of commitment and support.
When Social Work decided to close all day centres her family fought very hard to keep these services as they really suited P. After their closure she received a personalisation package which only covered the hours she had previously attended the day centre. Buddies offered her family a Creative Break as the family had told us how much P missed Buddies and her friends. They were delighted and P was very excited.
She went on the trip to Glencoe and loved all the activities as apart from her day time community outreach she had no social events with friends and she is a very lively and happy young woman who likes being with people. Despite her mobility problems she loved the canoeing, the climbing, the mountain train trip, a forest walk and the sledging.
She particularly liked being with others in the accommodation, the sharing of meals, the lively music and the dancing, she had such a wonderful time that she sent a wee personal letter to the staff member who supported her on the trip thanking her for ‘the great time, and she had really, really enjoyed herself’. While P was away her family had time together knowing she was having a wonderful time. They all hope that another Break might be possible again.
K. had never attended formal respite as she just refused to go. However she went on one of our first adventure breaks and absolutely loved it. Having the opportunity to go on a Creative Break was not just a huge help to her Mum but was very much looked forward to by K, as she is very sociable but due to her autism this is often inappropriate and can cause problems when she is unsupervised.
K. has made great friends at Buddies and a group of friends and staff went to Blackpool. Here she enjoyed a complete change from her day to day routine. There were lots of new things to see and new learning opportunities. The break included going to the Blackpool Tower, the circus, Madam Tussauds, swimming and the pleasure beach.
They also shared meals in their B&B and had meals out which is always an adventure. The time passed very quickly and everyone was sorry to come home. All the staff commented on how much the young people enjoyed their time away and how their obvious fun and laughter made it easier to support them even when there were difficult situations to cope with.
Since this particular trip K.C’s gran has died and there has obviously quite a lot of change for the family. Due our further funding for more Creative Breaks K.C is on the list for another break as her Mum now really needs a break after all her double caring duties.
R. was in Buddies in his early teens but left because he found it difficult to participate in some of the activities. His parents are coping with his academic challenges but find it difficult to find suitable social outlets for R.
R. returned to Buddies evening club in 2014 as he had become very isolated and his mother was extremely apprehensive about him participating in a Creative Break. R. however had decided he wished to go on the Break to Glencoe. This trip had a range of active activities which R.P really enjoyed. These included canoeing, climbing, A forest Walk, orienteering and sledging. He was able to participate in all activities with one to one support.
This gave him much needed confidence and a sense of pride and achievement. He was therefore able to cope with the team sharing in the accommodation and meal times and became really relaxed with his other companions and the staff.
On his return his mother was extremely surprised at how much he had enjoyed himself and how well the whole experience had interested and excited him. The whole family hope he can have another break quite soon.
What Buddies Clubs and Services has learnedWe have learned that pre planning makes a huge difference to the success of each break. It is important to consult not just the parents but the participants and the staff. Choosing staff who have knowledge of the young people is a massive help.
It is important to go to places where there is a very good range of activities. The fund has made a huge difference to the young people and their families. Having this sort of programme also helps not just involve our staff but brings out hidden talents and some great ideas. Everyone involved gains new confidence and the willingness to try new things.
The parents who have never had the opportunity of a break before very often are rather apprehensive before the break but very enthusiastic when their young people return. This of course spreads the word and more families come forward hoping to have the opportunity of a creative break. Often these new families find that using some of our other services helps build initial confidence in their young person before starting a break.
Perhaps one of the most important lessons for all concerned is just HOW adventurous the young adults can be. Many parents and carers still give too much protection and still treat them as children. Often this because it is simply easier to continue to do the same things or the parents and carers find some of the activities too daunting.
This still means some parents will not let go and give their young adults any chance of independence. This simply leads to on-going 'learned helplessness'.