Disability, My Life

Birmingham PHAB Camps

Birmingham PHAB Camps are a small, voluntary organisation, which aims to encourage the integration of disabled and able-bodied children and young people.

This post talks about a local charity that has been a fundamental help and benefit to me. Birmingham PHAB Camps, created in the 1960s when it was still ok to say Physically Handicapped, but we still love the acronym anyway. It works.

The registered charity arranges various residential holidays, during July and August. During these holidays, the participants are given the opportunity to participate in new and challenging experiences. Such as canoeing and archery, raft building and ropewalks, along with visits to theme parks, farms and the swimming pool.

To enable everyone, disabled or not, to participate in these new and challenging experiences, the organisation adapts the activities so everyone can join in and participate in the activities with everyone else, no matter of their ability.

The charity runs three camps throughout the year; all of which are targeted towards different age groups, and those with different disabilities to further encourage inclusion and so the participants have similar disabilities and interests.

This also helps the organisers involved to target the ages and disabilities. So the participants can get the most out of their week away. The first of the holidays they run is ‘holidays for disabled and non-disabled young people together’.

There are four camps with this approach:

  • Junior camp for those aged 8 to 10 years old,
  • Senior camp for those aged 11 to 13 years old,
  • Venture for those aged 14 to 16 years old,
  • then lastly, Adult Breakaway for those aged 18 to 25 years.

These four camps all have the same theme, composed of an equal number of disabled and non-disabled young people. The participants are cared for by dedicated teams of trained volunteers in activities that are active and tailored to the age group.

Like swimming, canoeing, indoor and outdoor challenges and days out to all sorts of attractions. As the participates get older, they move along and can join in until they are 25.

The second camp the charity run is ‘Holidays for young people with multiple disabilities who have one-to-one support during the week’. These camps are called, Breakfree who helps those with multiple disabilities aged between 8 to 18 years old.

Then the participants with multiple disabilities can join freedom as this camp is similar to Breakfree for those aged between 18 to 25 years old. The participants on Breakfree and  Freedom camps are all disabled and usually supported by more than one person.

This is so they are able to get the most out of their experience on the camps. The camps often include some of the activities that happen on the other camps such as swimming as various days out.

However the activities are adapted, so there is focus on the sensory needs of the individual participants, the activities are of a more relaxed pace and are tailored around the responses and engagement of the participants to help them get the most out of the camp.

The final camp that PHAB Camp runs is aimed towards, ‘Children with profound autism’. Pace camps are slightly different to the other camps that they run. The participants are aged between 8 and 14 years old.

This camp takes a smaller number of participants away, which allows the camp to work on a ratio of two volunteer helpers to one participant with autism, allowing the activities to be catered to each of the participant’s needs and interests.

All of the camps that Birmingham PHAB camp run every year are thought out to the very last detail and are surely dedicated to the participants needs to allow them to get the most out of their time away.

Each of the camps are run by a dedicated leader and an amazing team of volunteers. The volunteers are always full of energy and imagination. To prepare the volunteer with everything they need to know and to make them aware of everything that will happen during the week.

All of the volunteers attend a training day before the summer camps begin. During the training day all volunteers have a chance to meet the leader and other volunteers that will be doing the same camp as them.

It also allows them to complete training on the use of wheelchairs, use of minibuses, how to assist with hygiene for others, child protection issues, and health and safety. AND gives volunteers the chance to sit with their leader and team to discuss a plan for the week.

All of the volunteers work together, helping each other, and together create a great experience for all of the participates, there is a real sense of team spirit. The volunteer role at Birmingham PHAB camps is a roll of great responsibility as they have to care and be aware of the in-depth needs of a participant on the camp to be able to help them effectively.

It is also a possibility that each volunteer will have to cope with any unexpected situations that may arise and must know how to handle the situation and solve it or find a solution as quickly and as carefully they can.

There’s also a great matter of delicacy and care that needs to take place throughout the week in order to assist to the participants in the best way they can and support them enough to enable them to have the best experience possible.

Volunteers are known to be very hard working and be extremely exhausted by the end of the week, but its a chance to make a difference to the children’s lives.

This amazing charity has no means of government funding and therefore has to raise all of the money through fundraising events sponsorship and donations. Everyone who is involved with the charity put the full efforts into raising money every year for the charity.

The charity has a target of £95K to raise every year to ensure they give everyone a chance to go on these holidays and give them the full experience while they are on the camp.

It costs around £800 per child to take on these holidays and sadly if they cannot raise their target, they are sometimes unable to take the full number of participants on the holidays.

It is a difficult and challenging job everyone tries their best and does everything they can to raise the target. PHAB’s fundraising is assisted by family and volunteer contributions.

The charity also attempts to approach trusts in order to try and raise awareness and raise funds. An example of this is about 60% of our funding is generously provided by Charitable Trust Funds around the country.

Every year, roughly 40 trusts award the charity grants of between £50 and £10,000.

The charity has some amazing companies, fellow charities, trust funds and social groups. To name a few of these supporters that assist this charity:

  • Marks and Spencer,
  • The True Colours Trust,
  • Wraggles & Co,
  • Birmingham District Nursing Charitable Trust,
  • ASDA,
  • George Fentham Birmingham Charity,
  • Baron Davenport’s Charity and White Stuff.

All these supporters, as well as many more, support the charity and through their hard work and dedication, enables them to continue to run the camps every year.

The charity themselves hosts a range of fundraising activities and events throughout the year. These events and activities have included supermarket bag packing, party nights and sponsored walks with annual themes.

Those involved in Birmingham PHAB Camps have been known to raise money for the organisation through people sponsoring them completing challenges such as marathon running, skydiving, firewalling or bungee-jumping.

This charity works tirelessly to enable participants and volunteers alike to have a great time on these holidays and to get the most of them. However, the charity will only stay ongoing with our support.

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