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    Groups of children from some of the communities where West Kent has homes have enjoyed an exciting residential trip to Thriftwood Scout camp in Essex.

    The groups attend West Kent’s 8-12 clubs and include children who are on the autistic spectrum, have ADHD or anxiety. These clubs are run weekly by West Kent staff across the Sevenoaks district, providing regular, low cost, locally based activities in a safe environment, providing opportunities to develop socially and emotionally with an emphasis on behaviour and positive communication. Children are referred to the project by parents, teachers, or other professionals.
    The children took part in various activities such as problem solving, water roller ball and pedal cars as well as raft building and water splash challenge. There was a bonfire and a BBQ and each evening ended with hot chocolate and ‘wind down’ time with a movie – Beauty and The Beast or Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory.

    The children were supervised by a variety of West Kent youth staff – some from the 8-12s clubs and also other West Kent Communities youth workers who had volunteered their time to support the residential.

    Kate Craib, Youth Services Manager at West Kent explained:

    “We aim to plan at least one of these residential visits each year because we can see just how much the children we work with benefit from being with other young people who need that extra bit of support and also from taking part in the activities that we offer. Over the week the children not only made new friends and had a lot of fun but their confidence grew as they overcame new challenges, learnt how to solve problems and learnt new skills that will help to prepare them for the next stage of their lives.

    It's perhaps difficult to imagine how much work beforehand and during goes into making a trip like this a success. I guess it's a bit like organising a family holiday for a very large and diverse family, on a small budget, with very strict laws and rules that have to be followed every step of the way. To see the smiles on the children’s faces makes it so worthwhile! “

    Sonia Setterfield, whose son Jake attends the West Kingsdown club on a Wednesday night said “Jake really enjoyed his time away with the 8-12s club. He was able to express himself and his creativity. He really enjoyed the activities and was so happy to tell everyone about it.”

    She added, “As a parent, I wrapped Jake up to protect him with his autism. He had never been away by himself before. The West Kent Youth Services staff made me feel really relaxed about letting him go and kept me updated about what was happening. They were great with Jake by letting him know what was happening step by step so that he didn’t feel lost. It’s like my son had grown up when he came back! It made me realise how much more he can do. So, I want to say a big ‘thank you’ to all of the 8-12s staff as they really helped him.”

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