I wrote the blog post below a few years ago about the frustrations of supporting young people in the care system and, having had a message from my lovely friend Emma, I felt obliged to let people know, again, how the other half live. You can find other similar posts here.
I wrote this before having my own children. Before I fully understood the enormity of the role of being a parent and, now I know what it entails and how much impact what you say and do (or don’t) it feels even more important that these young people are supported as much as is possible because otherwise, who breaks the cycle? Who stops their children from going through the same experiences…. Some food for thought.
How many kids have you got?
As you can see I haven’t blogged for a while but, it is tough to fit everything in when you’re a parent to 20 kids.
Alright; I’m ‘only’ a corporate parent, and they are over 18, and they don’t actually live with me (actually lots of them are only those faceless scallies that you see on the street that’ll never amount to anything and people cross over the road to avoid) but- THEY ARE MY RESPONSIBILITY.
Do you have kids?
What are they like?
What would you do to stop them feeling pain, committing a crime, becoming homeless, going to prison.
I bet you’d walk over hot coals- I would.
I only met my kids when they turned 18 and I can actually only be their parent until they’re 21 (or in the unlikely event that they do continue in education, until they’re 24) and, to be totally honest I am actually only legally obliged to see them once every 12 weeks- 4 TIMES PER YEAR. Yeah, that’s right government…that’ll be enough to keep them on the straight and narrow,
get them into education or a work placement,
help them to find independent accommodation in the borough that they WANT to live in, not the only one that’ll agree to take responsibility for them,
make them genuinely believe that they are worth something
and they can achieve
and they do deserve better
and to deal with any of the other day to day issues that they might be struggling with over these three years.
The governments Every Child Matters agenda states that all young people deserve the following:
To be healthy
To be safe
To enjoy and achieve
To make a positive contribution
To achieve economic well-being
I agree whole heartedly with these objectives, but I don’t think that they can be properly and fully achieved in just 3 years.
· I think that any young person needs a stable home, preferably their own family but, if not, then a long term, stable loving, foster placement. Not like one of my kids who can list well over 20 placements that she’s had in the last 10 years (she’s now 20)
· I think that I think that any young person deserves to feel healthy and safe, to have the knowledge and understanding of what will keep them safe, mentally, emotionally, sexually, physically. Not like one of my kids who has a rare form of asbergers but is currently sofa surfing because he hasn’t yet got to the top of the council housing list. He can’t cope with going into a hostel as he doesn’t feel confident with people that he doesn’t know.
· I think that it is incredibly important that all young people have the opportunity to make a positive contribution to society, several of my young people were really interested in going on a weeks volunteering trip to Bulgaria with Vinvolved and attended interviews but…it was cancelled at the last minute due to a lack of interest.
· I believe that achieving economic well being is currently a distant dream for my young people; currently only 5 out of my 20 have a job.
The Banardos advert couldn’t be more true and it has to stop.
All to often meeting kids aged 18 is 10 years too late. They don’t trust people, they’ve been let down and have left school with few qualifications and low self esteem. Then, just when you build a relationship with them, they open up and you really get to know them, you close their file and that’s it, they’re on their own again (another point to note; the average age children leave home now is 27- unless they’re care leavers…)
As I say every time; it wouldn’t be good enough for your kids, it wouldn’t be good enough for my kids so WHY is it good enough for these kids?
So- I am not sure what I can do to make a positive contribution to this issue at the moment but I know that I want to and I hope that some of you reading this will do to. I will be having a think in the coming days and weeks and will let you know what I come up with- of course, all comments, suggestions, shares etc etc are all very welcome.
I know that there is a lot of chat about the whole Big Society idea but I don’t know what is out there at the moment that is working- something must be?
Oh- and just incase you think that one person can’t make a difference…
Lots of love.
PS- if you are one of ‘my kids’, know this- I think about you every day. Genuinely. People don’t do jobs like this for the money, they do it because they care. XxxxX