It has been a big year and at the Office of the Guardian for Children and Young People we are humbled to be listeners and advocates to the many children and young people who reach out and connect throughout the year.
Thank you also to the adults and carers who worked hard to provide loving and caring homes, to the service providers, agencies and departments who gave therapeutic and understanding support, and to the people who advocated for the children and young people when they needed it the most.
The festive season is approaching and should be a magical, exciting and memorable experience for children: creating memories, the anticipation of surprises, smiles and joys, an abundance of food and an overindulgence of fun and love. But for some children in the care and youth justice system, it can be a stressful and an emotional time. Memories of birth families, both good and bad, may arise, no matter how ‘jolly’ the occasion is.
We can fail to register the effect the symbolic pressure of the happy family coming together can have on children who are separated from their own family or reminded of events from their past.
So, what can we do? How can we all play our part in supporting children and young people through this exciting, but sometimes tough season?
We can listen to their excited thoughts and their scared thoughts.
We can involve them in our activities and lives, share some our traditions and incorporate some of their traditions.
We can reassure them that it’s okay to be nervous, excited, sad and happy (sometimes all at the same time). And that it is safe to have those big feelings anytime.
We can reach out, perhaps, to those who have left care and remind them that we are thinking of them. We can let them know that they are not alone, that they also deserve to be part of a festive season, and that they are an important part of our lives too.
Most importantly we can continue to be there.
In 2023, we will continue to be here. We know that new (and old) challenges and opportunities will present themselves. We will be ready to do what we have always done – uphold the rights of children and young people in care and youth detention.
We wish everyone a safe and happy festive season. We look forward to working with you all in 2023.
Please note, our office will be closed from 12pm on Thursday 22 December 2022 until 9am on Tuesday 3 January 2023.