Young Adults Creative Breaks
A story by Buddies Clubs and Services
We provided four breaks at various locations throughout the UK for young adults whose lives are affected by life long disabilities so that they could pursue their interests, discover new passions and have fun together with a group of their friends and peers.
They were supported by our staff and giving their entire families and carers some well-needed respite. Each break lasted for 5 days and 4 nights away from home.
What Young Adults Creative Breaks did
First we select what kind of break we would like to offer which is dependent upon the time of year and then we check staff availability. Next the manager holds a meeting with the staff to see which of the young people would be most suitable for the location and possible activities available. Then we contact with the families to see if the break suits their schedules and then arrange meetings to discuss the activities, individual needs, accommodation, and dietary/medication requirements.
Our staff also communicate with the young adults on a regular basis. This is easy for some of the young adults as they attend our core services regularly. For new families home visits and meetings are carried out. The young adults are also very involved in the planning of day trips and outings, planning of meals and menus and shopping lists. This strong personal input gives them the opportunity to become as independently as possible while they are away on the short break.
Through the funds awarded we have been able to organise four Creative Breaks between October 2017 and September 2017 to Edinburgh, Dunoon, Blackpool and Aviemore. These breaks were all for five days/four nights. The activities included archery, canoeing, climbing, team-building activities, mountain train trip, forest walks and orienteering, The Blackpool Tower, Circus, Madame Tussauds, shopping trips, swimming, the Edinburgh Christmas market, theatre shows, meals out, barbeques, amongst various other things.
We also tried something new and organised an all-boys trip in February 2017 which went very well and are organising an all-girls trip for our next break. While the young people were kept very busy the carers found time to relax and have time to themselves. Some managed to see friends they had not had time to visit for many years.
One family even went on a weekend break by themselves. It is interesting to note that while the young people wanted a fun packed time the parents/carers needed just the opposite, time to enjoy each other and some friends without the constant external pressures created by having their young people at home all the time.
She and her mother have recently adjusted to the devastating loss of D’s father and grandmother which caused the family enormous grief. Mum was struggling to cope with all this combined with her caring responsibilities towards her daughter participating in a Creative Break.
D has participated in our most recent break to Aviemore and enjoyed it thoroughly. She had even taken part in outdoor activities which challenged her thoroughly. Our staff reported that they offered to help but she was determined to see through the activity on her own. We were all so proud of her and her mother was very pleased with how this break went.
However both sons visited Badaguish Outdoor Centre for the long weekend and both, though initially apprehensive about taking part, relaxed and had great fun. Both said that they would like to take part again in a future break. Just as importantly Dad’s trust in us to take care of his sons was rewarded and was able to enjoy the long weekend and will know that he does not need to worry about his children if his sons are able to attend again. Fingers crossed.
Her parents are both near 70 years old and struggle very much with the obligations and commitments they have to their caring roles as they also have a son who is affected by Asperger’s Syndrome. Both parents are forced to live to day to day scheduling their lives around their children’s’ routines so that they are always there when needed. They almost never have time for themselves and even more rarely have the opportunity to go on holiday as their children’s needs are so complex the anxiety of it all is just too much.
On all the Creative Breaks provided via Buddies there is always one to one support for every young person and this helps to reduce B’s levels of stress and ensure she enjoys the break. On the most recent break which B participated in she took part in outdoor activities – hill walking, a funicular ride up a mountain, sledging and orienteering to name a few. Her mother was astonished that B enjoyed the break so much as she thought that B didn’t like to take part in outdoor activities but was thrilled all the same when B said she wanted to go back.
Not only were both parents afforded the weekend to themselves but they even managed to have some refurnishing work done to their kitchen which according to the parents was most overdue. This particular family is requesting not only the longer break as part of their funding budget but also shorter breaks as this is what they see is most needed to sustain the family as a ‘whole unit’. This is the kind of opportunity that parents/carers are looking for from these breaks. If the family would not have had the opportunity to experience the breaks because of this funding then they would not have discovered that this is something that was so helpful to their family. Not only that their children/young people are safe and having fun but also a chance to take a breath and catch up with themselves.
What Buddies Clubs and Services has learnedPre planning is of course the key to success not just with this project but all the different services we run. This project needs extra time and effort as staff and young people are away for 5 days 4 nights which without the extra time planning and getting to know the young people who participate in each break could result in huge levels of stress for ALL participants. Each trip has staff who either already know the young people or take the extra time to get to know new participants and their families.
It is important that all places we visit can provide a good range of activities to keep everyone involved and busy. We find that having a broad range of activities often brings out hidden talents and new ideas. Some young people enjoy activities which their families are very surprised at their level of participation. This of course means everyone gains confidence and become more willing to try other new things.
Most parents/ carers are very apprehensive about how their young people will cope away from home. However we have found that because parents/ carers have got to know the staff involved with each break they are happy for the young people to have the opportunity of being away from home. The success of the breaks means parents are very keen to have more breaks and become very willing to let their young people become very adventurous.
Most parents and carers really enjoy having time to themselves and being able to relax. Even those who have initial concerns are delighted at how their young people really enjoy all aspects of the trips. It is perhaps the fact that many parents do not realise just how adventurous their young people can be as they have just been doing the safe, secure and very limited activities for years.
The biggest success for all would be if parents and carers could build such breaks into their future budgets for their young people.