Since October half term 2017, Stockport Homes Group has worked in partnership with social enterprise Wonderful Things and All Saints Primary School in Heaton Norris to deliver a pilot of innovative activities in the school holidays.
In line with Stockport Homes’ commitment to its communities and the Greater Manchester Strategy priority around young people being equipped for life, the aim is to inspire thirty children, feed into their social and academic attainment and provide affordable childcare for working parents.
All Saints’ catchment is the deprived neighbourhood of Lancashire Hill/Heaton Norris. Many children who attend have emotional or behavioural needs, including some on the autistic spectrum and involved with social care.
The sessions run from 9-4pm to provide a full day of activities and engagement. Some of the sessions delivered to date include an Animal Day, Didgeridoo, Flash Bang Science, Lego Day and an Alice In Wonderland Day.
Four of the older children have been promoted to Youth Volunteers and mentor the younger ones as role models. This opportunity builds their self-esteem and allows them to be part of the wider Wonderful Things Youth Volunteer programme which already has more than thirty young people involved in delivering holiday activities elsewhere.
Stockport Homes funds the cost of Wonderful Things organisation and facilitation, supported by bids for external funding when possible. The school meet the cost of a Teaching Assistant being present every day and parents/carers are charged a token £2 per day for each child to encourage them to value the opportunity and maximise attendance. All children have to attend for the full week.
The results have been overwhelmingly positive. 100% of parents agreed the club had a positive impact on their finances during the holidays, on organising childcare and on combining work with childcare.
“I always find it hard to get childcare as I work nights and family all work in the day and without Wonderful Things, I would work all night and stay awake all day.”
“I would find it difficult without trying to arrange sitters for my child. He also wouldn’t have a very good holiday as his sitter is elderly (Nan). They are limited to what they can do with him, he would spend his days stuck inside.”
100% stated Wonderful Things had a positive impact on their child/ren’s happiness, self-confidence, feelings about school, trying new activities and interacting with adults/new people. The majority stated it had a positive impact on their child’s behaviour.
“This is the first time my children have attended the club, they have LOVED every minute. They have never once complained about attending the club. They are up, dressed and ready to go without being asked, there manners are fantastic and both are very happy to help around the house even tidying there rooms. Thank you wonderful things!” Parent
“He has gained lots of confidence made new friends, loved handling the animals which wouldn’t of been possible without the club, overall the impact has been an exceptional positive response, many thanks!” Parent
“I have never seen [Child X] smiling or interacting with others at school. The change in him was amazing.” Teacher
“Child Y’s parents have never set foot in school for anything. Dad came into the school for the first time to see what his children were doing and interacted with staff. This is HUGE for that family and is something the school can now build on.” Teacher
A lot of lessons have been learned and implemented over the year. For example, behaviour for the first and last hours was very challenging, and it was realised that many of the children were arriving with emotional baggage from home and were hungry. The first and last hours are now devoted to feeding the children and doing calming activities, so they can get the most out of the core activities.
A further two week club will be delivered at All Saints during the summer holidays, before the project is extended to a second local school.