For volunteering on our playscheme or if you would like your child to attend email; firstname.lastname@example.org
Who we are!
The Huddersfield Support Group for Autism (HSGA) is a registered charity that offers support to many families who have a child with autism. We organise social events through the year. These include Crazy Kids, trips to Chester Zoo and Bridlington, and music evenings. For some of our younger members, these events are the highlight of their social calendar! Many long lasting friendships have been formed at these events, especially between younger members who like to have the chance to catch up on each others news and have fun together. We also run a play scheme ever year in the summer, which can run up to 3 weeks, and is purely for children with autism and other similar developmental disorders. This is one of the most important things we do! Not only does it allow children to socialise and play with others who are similar, but it offers their families a chance for some much needed respite and allows them to do things they would not otherwise be able to do. We are very proud of what we have accomplished over the past 20 years and we wish to continue for many years to come.
Now, here comes the important bit. Due to major funding cuts, the future of the charity is not looking good! We are a non profit organisation, and so every penny we get goes straight into funding these activities and days out, and the ever important play scheme.
It is the play scheme itself that we are specifically fund raising for here. Just one week for fun filled awesomeness (and it is awesomeness! the kids love it!) can cost up to £12,000. Just this number shows you how much goes into creating a play scheme that is as awesome as this one continues to be. But let me clue you in on what your graciously received cash will be spend on:
First off we need a suitable base. We need somewhere that is easily accessible and has all the facilities available to make the play scheme be as good, comfortable and fun as it can be. These include disabled toilets, a kitchen area where we can teach our kids some of those essential life skills, an outside play area where they can have fun and run around without safe guarding becoming an issue. For the three weeks, this can cost up to £2400.
Next we need transport. Two big coaches! We pick our kids up every morning from all over Huddersfield and Dewsbury and drop them off again in the evening. This is because not all parents can get their kids to us due to circumstances or other issues, and we acknowledge and respect that. But it doesn't come cheap! We also need these coaches to get out and about on day trips. 2 coaches per week= £1125 per coach. £2250 x 3 weeks = £6750. This is a hell of a lot of money just go get places!
Next is the staff. All of our support workers and group leaders are the very best at what they do, with a plethora of experience between them all. The play scheme can be both mentally and physically exhausting, and so we need dedicated people who are up to the task. And this is what we have, as they keep coming back every year to make sure the kids have the best time possible. These are our paid staff, as their experience and expertise allows them to look after the more challenging children. I did mention that the work they do is both mentally and physically exhausting- you should see them at the end of the 3 weeks! Their wages add up to roughly £22000 for the 3 weeks. We also have volunteers (who are usually college students looking for some experience in working with kids with additional needs). We pay these guys expenses worth around £1200 for the 3 weeks.
Ok, so now we have the base, transport and staff. Now we need things to do. On the Play Scheme, we try and make the week as fun as we can while making it accessible to all. Not an easy feat, but each year we manage it, and it is fantastic and massively rewarding to see these children having fun and doing activities that they wouldn't usually be able to do. Activities include:
Trips to the cinema (we have to rent out a whole screen for an Autism friendly showing - i.e. lights on, reduced volume, no public).
Day trips out to places such as theme parks
Activity days at Bradley woods where there are activities such as low ropes, high ropes, climbing walls, nature trails and the like.
Swimming (again, renting out the pool for the morning/afternoon so there is no public)
Lazer Quest and bowling (again again, renting it out so there is no public).
All in all, these expenses can add up to roughly £5000.
Other expenses include training i.e. for medical needs such as first aid, buccal midazolam and epilepsy training for around £600. Then there any DBS’s for volunteers and staff that need doing, which is around £600.
So there you have it! A lot of stuff needs paying for, but a lot of budget cuts means that we won't be able to do all the stuff we usually do that makes these 3 weeks so invaluable to our young people and their families. For a lot of our kids, it might be the only chance they get to do some of these activities, and for some of the parents, it might be the only chance they get to have some respite and the opportunity to spend some much needed time with other family members. So if you think about it, your hard earned money is not just going to the children (which is a worthy cause in itself), but it is positively affecting those around them.
At the moment we are doing a lot of other fundraising activities in order to keep the charity going and make this years Play Scheme as good as it can be. Fundraising events include a very successful curry day where we raised £800, charity bag packs and charity buckets, but this isn't enough. With your help, we can keep the play scheme and this charity going for many more years to come!
I have been involved with the Play Scheme since I was 16 (12 years!?!) and I can honestly say it is one of the most humbling, exciting, fascinating and fun times of the year. And if that's me as staff saying this, how do you think our kids feel about it? But don't just take it from me. Here are some quotes from some parents from past years:
I just wanted to thank you and your army of volunteers for the fabulous playscheme you provided this year. J was on the first week and he had a wonderful time. I was amazed how much you were able to do with the kids.
My thanks to J’s personal helper too, he worked so well with J, I was extremely impressed. It made such a difference to me to know that J was cared for and entertained for that wek (he’s a bit of a hyperactive little pickle at home!). I can’t imagine how much it must cost to provide this or how you manage to coordinate it all but it’s been amazing.
Thank you, J and I will look forward to next summer. Take care KW
I just wanted to let you know that W is having such a fantastic time - he has been looking forward to this week for the last 6 months and he has not been disappointed. For the first time ever he appeared with a top and some trousers saying he was going to get dressed (all by himself) - he has NEVER done this. Admittedly he has chosen the tightest pair of skinny jeans and the warmest possible top!
We cannot thank you enough as the play scheme is a safe haven for us over the holidays as there are no other activities he can do. All our love. G & M
I would first like to say thank you for including C on your play scheme this year. He had an amazing time and was very happy to leave in the morning and still happy on his arrival home. I was pleased with the feedback from your staff and also the fact that C enjoyed taking part in the activities on offer. I loved the photo collage he made showing the things he did and made. I would also like to say a huge thank you to all the staff who looked after C. I met them when transport arrived to collect him and drop him back off and they were always nice and polite and very calm and relaxed when my son was in their care. I was really pleased that everyone had a good relationship with him as I felt at ease letting him go plus it gave me a much needed break too. Thank you all so much
Yours sincerely SB
I just wanted to say a huge thank you for all you did to make the play scheme such a huge success. This was C’s first year on the scheme (Asperger’s age 9) and although I know about the scheme it was amazing to see it first hand. It truly is run with military precision (which it obviously has to be). C came home each day with his eyes lit up, excited about whatever activity he had done that day. You persuaded him to do things he would normally never do such as cooking and the cinema. My 6 year old is now trying to convince me he has ASD so he can go next year too!
I felt 100% secure in the knowledge that C was in safe hands with people that understood his condition and knew how to deal with him, even though they’d never dealt with him before and you can’t buy that kind of reassurance. It’s so hard in the holidays to get him off the sofa away from what he’s passionate about (Xbox & Kindle) and out and about doing activities. It was great to see him have such a great week and see how confident he felt being there.
Seeing children with more severe ASD while I was there was an eye opener for me and I felt quite moved in seeing how much the scheme meant to those children’s parents in terms of respite for them and their families.
The volunteers were enthusiastic and dedicated and a credit to you. Thank you for all your hard work and commitment in making this scheme such an incredible success….you should be very proud
This is from a child, written in a thank you card.
I would just like to say a big thank you for giving me a place on the summer playscheme. I have benefitted a lot from it and have really enjoyed it. I had a good week with my carer and wanted to say thank you.
From AZ x
So there you go! You can hopefully see how much this play scheme means to all the people it affects. With your help we can keep this going for many a year to come! Please donate what you can! Anything would be appreciated and just for reading through what has taken me ages to write out, you get a mental high five! You lucky things you!
For information on volunteering to work on the playscheme or if you have a child with autism and need support please go to:
Thank you, to the stars and back!
This text has been painstakingly written by Dan Robbins
a HSGA committee member and playscheme group leader who is also raising funds through Indiegogo.https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/huddersfield-play-scheme-for-children-with-autism#/story