Established in 1986, The Yard is an award-winning charity running adventure play services for disabled children, young people and their families in the east of Scotland. They offer disabled children and their siblings the chance to experience creative, adventurous indoor and outdoor play in a well-supported environment. Whilst their services have grown significantly, they always retain a holistic approach and ethos of a child-centred and child-led play service.
At The Yard, their role in the lives of children and families is an ambitious one. Their single purpose as an organisation is to provide care, support, and opportunities for fun and friendship for disabled children and young people. They also encourage families to let go, promoting challenge, personal growth and supported independence for their children.
They promote challenge and adventure for our children and young people. None of what they do at The Yard contains risk for its own sake, but they are there to promote physical development and social communication, and to give children a vibrant experience and sense of achievement. There are few places where children with physical and sensory impairments can experience building and lighting fires, and cooking their own food, or building dens, rope bridges or simple spaces to enjoy their own time. Everyone who uses The Yard is safe to learn and explore through taking controlled risks.
The Yard is as much about emotional as practical support for families. Besides offering informal respite, meeting other parents who face similar challenges gives them the chance to build a network of support and understanding that helps ease the difficulties they often face.
The Yard currently operate their services 7 days a week from their flagship centre in the Canonmills area of Edinburgh. They also operate weekend services in Fife and Dundee, as well as holiday outreach services in Edinburgh.
Values are the fundamental beliefs of an organisation, and for The Yard, they are the guiding principles providing an unwavering guide in all that they do. They set the tone, the pace, they dictate behaviours and the way they deliver their service; and ultimately they guide what they do, and more importantly, how they do it. They are also important as we know that identification with the values of an organisation is closely linked with personal commitment to an organisation, and values are one of the main drivers for employee engagement.
With values at the heart of what they do and a staff team that shares in their values, they are likely to have a higher quality of service, greater employee loyalty and ultimately the people – in their case the families that use them – will have a better experience.
Their Values are:
Over the past 12 years they have undergone a transformation of the charitable business and created a sustainable model of whole family support. With their staff team and Board of Directors, their ambitious, well-resourced strategy has achieved consistent annual growth from 2014-2018, increasing from £564,816 to £1,036,277, and with 2019 turnover projected at £1,474,921. With their continued growth plans, their revenue income is likely to be £1.9 million by the end of 2020.
They have also just embarked on a Capital Campaign for £3.8m, which will enable them to build a brand new Yard in Dundee and currently are in active discussions with Glasgow Life regarding the day to day running of Linn Park Adventure Playground.
The success of The Yard model has been built through listening, reflecting and designing services with and for a community made up of families with disabled children, and young people bound together by common needs and aspirations for a better future. They hold individual need at their heart, which helps ensure both exceptional quality and, most importantly, a positive experience for children and families. They are Care Inspectorate registered and received the highest grades possible for care and support, and leadership. Their growth is both quality and planning dependent. They have a set planning cycle and invest in business and workforce planning.
In 2018, The Yard supported over 1,100 families of disabled children and young people (age 0-25) across their three sites in Edinburgh, Dundee and Fife. Over 200 disabled children and young people benefited from their seven weekly drop-in, youth and respite clubs, and their early years service. Family sessions at The Yard Edinburgh, Fife and Dundee account for 71% of their visits overall. In 2018, their mainstream project ‘Sunday Funday’ was visited over 8,000 times by members of the public who were able to experience the magic of The Yard Edinburgh whilst contributing to their sustainability.
In 2016, The Yard commissioned a Social Return on Investment (SROI) impact analysis, which calculated the social, economic and financial benefitsgenerated from every £1 The Yard invested. This analysis is for The Yard Edinburgh and was created such that they can update the analysis every year.
In 2017/18, the benefits from their services generated a social value of £24.20 for every £1 spent. The SROI findings also confirm that The Yard model creates happier and more resilient families. In direct research with their members, they said:
- Disabled children and young people have better self-esteem and more confidence, are happier, have more friendships, improved physical health and increased social skills;
- Parents and carers have reduced stress, improved social networks and reduced social isolation, and a sense of belonging to an accepting community; they are better informed;
- Siblings are happier, and have a greater understanding of disabilities and difference.