Did you read the prequel to this blog post? If not, catch it here
Those who know us well understand that we not only help children and young people have a say in their lives but are also driven to change practice by elevating children’s voices to improve the services they use. One of the biggest steps we have taken to improve recording is in helping children and young people share their good news and to have these pieces of personal history placed on their case as a permanent record of these events. Going through those endless beige files there was precious little good news to look at and even less in the young person’s own words. Things that were determined as significant events were dictated by professionals and written in their language, using their take on the situation. Usually these were events such as moving placement, changes in schools or births and deaths in the child’s life. What was missing were things that the child felt were significant, their memories.
How memories are kept alive
Think about how memories are kept alive in your family. Aunty Jean at Christmas dinner saying ‘oh remember the time when you were little when you got chased by that mean goose and you fell in a cow pat’ or when your big sister tells you again about how it was the day you first met your little brother or you mum talks about how proud she was when you won the swimming race. All of these things help you build a picture of your past and a sense of belonging and identity, something all too often missing for children in care.
Our apps are co-produced with those young people who use them. The ‘Share my good news’ feature was something young people asked us to add and we are so glad we did. Time and time again young people tell us how much they value being able to put what they consider to be good news on their file.
I will never forget my experiences of sitting in a stark office with young people I cared a great deal about, looking though case files. I can still see the upset and sadness in the young people’s faces knowing they would never have the answers they needed. Fast forward twenty years and one of the most rewarding parts of what we do is knowing that young people now will find their own views about significant events on their files when they go looking for their answers.
Things changing for the better
Things are changing for the better, we recently came across some lovely practice on the other side of the world that we like to share. In the Open Home Foundation, the largest fostering provider in New Zealand, they are trialling a new way of writing children’s records. Every single record is written as a letter to the child in their care. We think this is a great way to personalise something that all too often is impersonal and let’s face it, seen as a chore at times to be completed as quickly as possible.
Memories matter. Positive memories are good for wellbeing. We are proud to help children and young people record those important times in their lives, in their own words.