Teenvine helps providers include neurodiverse young people in their holiday sessions this Christmas

Over the last couple of weeks, our Teenvine Plus and Next Steps teams have been attending council briefing sessions for Coventry clubs and organisations preparing to welcome young people in receipt of free school lunches to their setting for a hot meal and fun activities during the Christmas holidays.

The national Holidays, Activities and Food (HAF) programme provides grant funding to local authorities to support disadvantaged children in the Easter, summer and Christmas breaks from school.

A group of teenagers with special educational needs and disabilities smile as they stand with project worker Paul in front of a huge Christmas tree at Birmingham's Frankfurt Market in December 2021.
Last December’s annual trip to Birmingham’s Frankfurt Market, organised by Teenvine Plus

Our project workers were invited along to Coventry City Council’s briefing sessions and given time on the agenda to talk about how to design a HAF timetable that is inclusive of young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), to bring awareness to some of the barriers that can be overcome through small adjustments and to grow providers’ confidence in supporting young people with SEND to join in and have a great time.

In true Grapevine style, our staff delivered their presentation in a way designed to model a good approach to neurodiversity. So there was:

  • No slow death by PowerPoint with the difficult task of reading, listening, processing and remembering masses of detailed information;
  • Short snippets of clear information;
  • Extra time to to process the information;
  • Audience interaction;
  • Inclusion of different learning styles;
  • Frequent breaks and opportunities to take some time out;
  • The option to leave the room and return when ready;
  • A plan for the day laid out on tables to help the team keep to time and help the audience know what to expect next.
Pieces of paper are laid out on a table at the briefing session with one on pink paper asking what immediate change providers could make to create a more accessible setting for neurodiverse young people.
The reflection part of sessions asks audience members what immediate change they could put into place at their setting to make it more accessible for neurodiverse young people

One provider described a situation involving a neurodiverse person who liked to wear a small rucksack at all times. This presented a health and safety risk if the straps were to become entangled in equipment. Other people in the room helped work through the issue together and arrived at a simple solution – get an oversized T-shirt to wear over the rucksack!

Much more was asked and discussed and the team was approached for bespoke training sessions in individual organisations to explore inclusion further.

A Teenvine branded banner stand ios next to a table inside a hall containing flyers and information about Teenvine Plus.
The Teenvine Plus stall at the event

Look out for details soon of some listening events we are also running for parents of our new cohort of Teenviners to find out what is happening at home and at school and where there are common issues we could work on together to change.

Teenvine Plus and Next Steps are part of our #StrengtheningPeople strand of action at Grapevine.

Check out this video by the National Autistic Society, ‘What is Autism?’, shown during the briefing.