Belfast Activity Centre
Registered charity XN82053
Shoulder to Shoulder is a potential new longer term BAC programme that evolved from a pilot project to recognise and respond to the disrupted personal and social development needs of young carers and young siblings with a brother or sister responding to a present or continuing life threatening or life limiting illness.
Shoulder to Shoulder is a developmental programme that evolved from BAC succession planning for Change Your Futures, Young Carers and Lone Parents programmes and a pilot partnership project with Northern Cancer Fund for Children (NICFC).
Shoulder to Shoulder works through BAC’s existing AccessAbility programme in partnership with statutory and voluntary organisations to offer a collaborative approach towards adventure therapy for the siblings and their families.
Siblings and their families are provided with a safe adventure learning and therapeutic environment to explore and share their feeling and experiences, while receiving critical respite from their home circumstances.
Shoulder to shoulder is centered on siblings where a brother or sister is undergoing treatment for an acute long term or life limiting illness and young people with carer responsibilities within the family who are distinctly disadvantaged in their personal and social development.
Shoulder to Shoulder strives to meet the needs of siblings as a disadvantaged peer community but integrated within the wider context of families and the wider community of families “in crisis” dealing with acute clinical, medical, disability or learning challenges in their lives.
Specific issues include: lack of parental attention due to prevailing caring demands; financial difficulties; difficulty coping with their experiences; self-blame and guilt; difficulty having friends visit their home; prejudice and bullying; grief and bereavement; disturbed sleep; behavioural issues and lack of concentration at school.
Access to opportunities is also limited due to the financial impacts of disability / acute illness on the family (over half of families with a disabled child are living in or on the margins of poverty and supporting a disabled child costs 3 times as much as an ‘average’ child), parents lack of time to invest in creating or exploring opportunities for the sibling or getting the sibling to / from activities, a lack of confidence and self-esteem, hindering participation in mainstream activities.