How short break provision can make a radical difference for a young person moving into adulthood

KIDS case study about a young person's experience of a short break. Written by Lynne Horsfield, Kids.

In 2010 Mike came along to our open short breaks session which had the aim of reaching out to more young people who were struggling to access their local communities. With the aim of reducing social isolation and community inclusion we promoted the activity day in colleges and through local professionals supporting hard to reach and under privileged young people.

This initial interaction with the young people allowed us to sign post on to groups and activities that were suitable to the young people and would support better outcomes for them. For Mike a group to increase his independence, improve his life skills and become a more active member of his community were top priorities and would support him and his family.

Mike said, "At the time - before KIDS - I did not do anything or go anywhere other than college. If I went out, it was with my mum but we did not go to far. We did not know anything about short breaks so I did not have any extra support or get a break for mum. I see some of the stuff around now and wish I was a bit younger." 

Mike was offered a place at the KIDS Youth 2 Gosport club. It ran a bi-monthly youth club and also a monthly out and about day. The club enables young people to meet socially and develop friendships, whilst improving life skills and independence. Mike along with other attendees to the group support the staff to plan activities and make choices about what they would like to do. The young people are involved in the planning and this helps to increase their self-worth and facilitate growth in confidence.

Mike said, "It was promoted through my college - leaflets and posters. Also some of my friends had told me about it because they had gone to an activity day, which they had a great time at." 

Social Isolation has been highlighted in the area for young disabled people who are finishing college and do not have something to move on to. Mike was still at the college, so we did a big push with leaflets and the open access day to allow young people to drop in to what they wanted. It gave young people and their families opportunity to have a taster and get a feel for what was on offer. It was really important to begin to establish relationships and support families like Mikes who can find community access difficult for a number of reasons.

Mike told us, "The very first one my mum took me along to was a bit scary. I knew a couple of my college friends would be there but did not know who else or what the leaders would be like. It was fabulous! The workers were so friendly and made me feel welcome, we all had a blast. I met some new friends who I have grown so close to over the years.

"I have done some exciting activities that I never even dreamt of doing - indoor skydiving, flying an aeroplane, playing volleyball on the beach in Brighton. I now go places on my own, or out with my friends, mum still worries about me but she knows I can do it now. I've learnt to do it and it's given me freedom to do so much more."  

Over the last 5 years Mike has developed his confidence greatly. He has moved from a socially isolated young man in to an outgoing, motivated member of the community. His independence has given him a different way of life - going out with friends and taking part in new things. It has been amazing to watch the changes and see Mike make real steps and achievements towards life goals and independence.

Mike's parent said, "He is so independent now and has gained so much confidence. The way he travels on his own now - he has developed so much that he has a part time job now and comes home on his own. Mikes friends can invite him out and he will go and meet them. He is coping with new situations, understanding  more about the way the world works.

"I know he worries about when he can't access the group anymore and so do I. What will there be for him? KIDS have helped him so much over the last few years and it reassures me knowing that he is going to be ok with me not there." 

Mike has made friends and they are enjoying going out and meeting up without the need for a parent to be shadowing them. The impact on Mike's family has been positive to. They have seen his independence grow and now he can access public transport on his own. Mikes mother does not need to take him every where and can have time for herself to. These things have all supported the development of Mike's confidence and his family are so grateful for peace of mind it gives them for his future.

Mike says, "It was fabulous! The workers were so friendly and made me feel welcome, we all had a blast. I met some new friends who I have grown so close to over the years. I have done some exciting activities that I never even dreamt of doing."

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