For several years the Family Information Group (FIG) has been funded by Havering to provide a Summer Playscheme for children with disabilities aged 5 - 18 living in Havering. Approximately 150 children are cared for each year for the first three weeks of the school summer holiday.
The FIG playscheme aims to provide disabled children and young people with interesting and stimulating activities which they may not otherwise have access to. Disabled children and young people will have the same opportunities as other children to take part in exciting and new experiences in a safe way.
Children and young people are able to meet up with some of their friends from school, or make new friends during the scheme which will enhance their social skills. The activities and trips we provide also ensure that children and young people attending the scheme will benefit from increased self-esteem, independence and confidence. Parents and carers benefit from a break from their caring responsibilities, knowing that their child is safe and having fun.
FIG employs approximately 45 staff during the scheme, most of whom are local teachers, teaching assistants and nursery staff, or are students at university studying teaching or related fields. Many have experience in working with children with disabilities and special needs and some work in schools such as Dycorts, Corbets Tey and Ravensbourne. The majority of our staff come every year and we often only need to recruit 10 new staff each year. All staff are DBS checked and are provided additional training as required.
Children are cared for at our premises in Harold Hill, or taken on outings and each child is allocated a Ratio. The lowest ratio is 2 children to 1 staff member and the highest is 1 child to 2 staff members. These ratios are maintained during the whole day and when children are taken on outings. Outings are arranged based on the various needs of the children and often in response to requests and suggestions from carers, children and young people. Not all outings are available for all children and young people and some of our regular trips are:
Sea-side – usually near to Southend and where toilet facilities are available.
Parks – local parks.
Bowling – usually in Southend so that children can have lunch at the Seaside.
Stubbers Outdoor Activity Centre – Children take part in archery, biking and water activities such as boating. The Centre provides their own staff, but our staff are always responsible for our children. The Centre has specially adapted equipment for children with disabilities and children are not expected to be able to swim to attend.
Diggerland, Paradise Wildlife Park and other places of interest.
Swimming – we have been fortunate to hire the swimming pool at Corbets Tey School in recent years. This is a fully accessible pool with facilities for children who are disabled. Our staff go into the water with the children, and we employ our own lifeguard. Children do not need to be able to swim to take part, but should bring armbands if required. Corbets Tey also has three garden areas we can use, a water area with fountains and water sprays, a large sand area, and an interactive music and sensory garden.
On outings, our buses stay with our groups. Therefore if we need to leave early for any reason, such as bad weather – we can.
As some parents have requested on site activities only, a small group of children will be remaining on site for two days each week. We will provide art & craft sessions, music, games, puzzles, bouncy castles, entertainers, sand & water as well as other activities devised by the staff such as treasure hunts and games for these children.