VAP’s work in the UK > Past projects > Rollercoasters Playscheme
Rollercoasters is a local charity which was established to provide support for families with children aged 4-14 who have acute learning and physical disabilities and live within the Borough of Dudley, which is in the Black Country near Birmingham.
It has organised a high quality holiday playscheme each summer since 1992, providing leisure and social opportunities for about 40 children with various disabilities. The scheme supports families and carers by providing respite during the long holiday periods. Some of the children also have medical conditions e.g. epilepsy, asthma and orthopaedic conditions; some have sensory impairment and all the children need a high level of individual care and support. A small number of children have degenerative or life threatening conditions.
Each year from 1994 a team of international volunteers have helped on the playscheme. Until 2003 this international workcamp was hosted by Quaker International Social Projects. It was taken on by VAP from 2004.
The international volunteers placed by VAP stay in the nearby town of Stourbridge at the Quaker meeting house which can only accommodate 10 volunteers in two rooms, so the team usually consists of 6 female and 4 male volunteers. They are brought to the work site each day by minibus. The camp lasts three weeks. A thorough training session is organised by the Rollercoasters at the start of the camp. Such training is necessary as the children need a high level of physical assistance including feeding, washing and changing and the volunteers need good communication skills, persistence, patience to listen, interpret and respond to a child with limited speech, hearing and movement. Professional qualified staff are always present as well as local volunteers, many of whom come to the project every year.
The volunteers accompany some of the children on trips – to a swimming pool, to a farm, ice skating, the cinema, a theme park. Activities include arts and crafts, cooking, hydrotherapy, a plastic ball-pool, music workshop, sensory rooms and other workshops. Weekends are free and the volunteers often take advantage of being in the geographical centre of England to visit many different places of interest.