The Yard is fortunate to receive £150 per month from the Vegware Community Fund. This generous
donation allows us to continue supporting disabled children, young people and their families during
Covid-19 through both in-person and online services. On behalf of everyone here at The Yard, I would
like to thank the Vegware Community Fund for this donation. Please see below for a report on how
money is being spent as well as an update on The Yard in general.

Funding report

The donations from Vegware have enabled The Yard to provide fun, friendship and support for families
with disabled children over the past year, through which the pandemic has continued to affect our
services and community. The money has been spent on our digital services and also helped to fund
the reopening of our adapted family sessions in Edinburgh.
From April 2020, we adapted our services and staff team and moved many of our sessions online to
ensure that our families had consistent support during the pandemic. This is something that we had
never done before. Although we experienced some difficulties in setting this type of support up, our
digital services became popular among our membership. Our initial online services included prerecorded and live early years sessions, play activity videos and advice and support for parents/carers.
The monthly donations have helped to fund the continuation of our digital services. Many of our
families told us that the online content gave them some structure and provided them with activities
which was especially useful when schools were closed due to Covid-19. The digital services also
allowed our children and young people to see familiar faces and get a bit of The Yard’s openness and
familiarity in their own homes.
“Thank you so much for the video and to Ronnie too. He had a big smile on his face especially hearing
it was to him. It will be a long journey back to ‘normal’ for us all but this really helps to build up his
confidence with leaving the house.” – digital services feedback
One of these services was our online youth clubs, which ran via Zoom for
our youth club members and became popular during the lockdown
introduced in January 2021. The clubs were there to provide consistent
support, fun and friendship for disabled young people during Covid-19,
which has been a hugely challenging time for families with disabled
children. Our Digital Playworker and the club Playteam Leaders, who
facilitated creative and inclusive activities at the sessions, delivered each
club fortnightly. We developed a programme of activities that could be
delivered digitally, using Zoom features (e.g. the whiteboard and chat
box) and materials that the young people can easily find in their houses
(e.g. cooking wrap pizzas). We also developed extensive online
Safeguarding policies and guidelines to ensure our young people and
staff are interacting online safely. Our young people loved seeing their
friends and The Yard staff on the Zoom calls and catching up with the
group. This was especially important during Covid-19 lockdown when
the young people cannot interact with peers very often. The clubs also
provided some routine for the young people as they occurred in regular
slots, giving them something to look forward to. At the sessions, The
Yard staff gave support and advice to the young people at the
sessions, helping to ease anxieties around Covid-19. In addition,
the clubs give parents/carers a small bit of respite when their
children were occupied, taking pressure away from their caring
responsibilities which have increased during the pandemic. We
paused our online youth clubs for the summer break and are
hoping to re-introduce youth clubs in-person in October.
“What can I say? Laughter from M after a gruelling few weeks.
Magical. P’s giggles made me laugh too. Massive thank you to The
Yard and the Clown Doctors. They are short sessions but the laughter
continues long after, like when you throw a pebble into a pond and
the ripples that follow.” – digital services feedback
The donations from Vegware also go towards our adapted family
sessions at The Yard Edinburgh. Since the start of May 2021, The
Yard has been able to re-open for limited in-person sessions for
member families at all three sites. This service is similar to the sessions that we were able to run in
autumn and winter 2020 when restrictions were relaxed. The grant from Vegware helped us to reach
this stage of reopening and support our community of families in-person again. We are offering small,
two-hour sessions that our members are be able to book into. During the school holidays, these
sessions ran 6 days per week at The Yard Edinburgh, whilst during term time they are running twice
per week, on a Friday afternoon and Saturday. Currently, the sessions are for up to 14 disabled
children with one supporting adult each. We anticipate the continuation of social distancing measures
at our services until December 2021, so until then the sessions will be bookable and limited capacity,
in contrast to our drop-in sessions before the pandemic. Over the year, we will continually review the
Covid-19 guidelines and will increase the maximum capacity as appropriate, hoping to support as
many families in-person as possible. This service is running at The Yard Fife and The Yard Dundee, as
well as The Yard Edinburgh.
This family service offers disabled children, young people and their families opportunities to engage
in inclusive indoor and outdoor play activities in a safe, non-judgemental and welcoming environment.
This service is especially important in the transition out of Covid-19 as it provides time for children to
play outdoors and regain some of the confidence, skills and independence they may have lost during
the pandemic. It also offers families a play outlet and a sense of routine. The Yard’s playworkers are
now experienced in facilitating creative activities even whilst social distancing measures are in place,
and so our children and families are able to participate in treasure hunts, messy and sensory play, bike
and trike riding, arts and crafts and much more. The sessions also provide parents/carers with respite
or simply time to relax with other families whilst their children
play at The Yard. Our families have informed us that their
respite provision has been hugely reduced over the past year,
putting lots of pressure on caring responsibilities. We therefore
would like to ease this pressure and stress through these
sessions. This family support offering is enhanced by our new
post of Specialist Support Manager who is there to provide
targeted support for families, focusing on the challenges arising
for our families out of Covid-19. Overall, we hope our family
sessions, combined with this new position, will support our
families in the transition out of Covid-19.

“A safe visit to The Yard has given my son a positive sense of routine and structure to focus on during
a very unstructured time with zero routine. It may only be 2 hours but those 2 hours set him for a
much more positive day and night. He is so happy to see The Yard on his ‘now and next’ board and he
is much happier and less anxious after our visits. It makes such a dramatic difference to easing his
anxiety.” – family feedback

Looking forward

We are delighted to have been able to welcome our member families back to all three of The Yard’s
sites. Over the summer school holidays, as described above, we provided in-person sessions for our
member families in Edinburgh, Dundee and Fife as well as working with Edinburgh Council to support
vulnerable families and running a specialist holiday respite provision scheme in Edinburgh. We have
re-introduced a weekly in-person early years session in Edinburgh for disabled children aged 0-5 and
their parents, which has already received lots of bookings. At the start of October 2021, we hope to
bring back our youth clubs in-person at The Yard Edinburgh, however they will be in a different format
as our previous youth clubs to ensure that the service is sustainable and supports the needs of young
people after Covid-19. Now that term time has restarted, we are working with special schools to
provide school sessions in both Edinburgh and Dundee, as well as providing twice-weekly adapted
family sessions at all three sites. As mentioned above, we anticipate that social distancing will be in
place until the end of 2021 which will continue to affect our services, however we are working to bring
back as many in-person sessions for our member families as possible. We will also continue to provide
online videos and support to ensure all of our families have a consistent source of support.

Thank you

On behalf of everyone here at The Yard, I would like to thank the Vegware Community Fund for your
generous support throughout Covid-19, as well as before the pandemic. Without this funding, we
would not have been able to continue supporting our community of disabled children, young people
and their families over the past 16 months.
“We know when we walk through the door into The Yard, we can relax. It’s our safe place where we
know our son is safe and content. It has been amazing to meet parents in exactly the same situations,
as life can feel isolating. Its a couple of hours of respite each week and we feel lucky to have
discovered The Yard” – family feedback