Rights, rules and rage: Guardian speaks about experiences in residential care

At the recent CREATE Voices in Action Conference, the Guardian gave a presentation on children and young people’s experiences in residential care.

The presentation focused on Shona’s insights into how children and young people interact with rights and rules in residential care – as told to her and her team by the children and young people who live in these care arrangements.

Shona also touched on the big feelings that children and young people in care have, and the responsibility adults have to honour those feelings with action. 

The full presentation – tiled ‘Rights, Rules & Rage in the lives of children in residential care’ – is available on our website. We’ve shared an excerpt from the speech below.   

Today, I gave you a particularly provocative title for this session. I do this to grab your attention, I do this to gain your interest. I do this to elicit an emotion, I do this because we have all felt ‘rage’ at some stage in our lives. This is what makes us connected, our capacity to feel similar emotions. This is what binds us and drives us to do better together. …

But, also, I used the word ‘rage’ because behind each of the quotes [presented] today, there are children and young people’s feelings.

And ‘rage’ is the tone we hear when these words are spoken.

I can confidently say that children and young people are not sharing their words in a monotonic manner. They are sharing their outrage that they, through no fault of their own, have been taken into care. They have been placed in an institution that constantly tries to make them conform to a ritualistic life that is filled with strangers, conflict, tension, and rules.

I suppose what I would like you to feel is a little bit of this very human emotion called rage. I would like you to think about what role you play in either facilitating the ongoing rage-like feelings or what role you play in dismantling it.

I know there are many people looking at how to make the residential care sector better. I see it every day. But every day, every single night that goes by, these children and young people need to live through this.

So, in signing off, I wanted to say… that I will be doing my darnedest to bring voice and awareness about what children and young people go through every minute, hour and day in these places, to those that need to hear it.

I will work with whoever I need to work with, to ensure children and young people’s fundamental right to grow up in a loving nurturing family is upheld.

I guess I ask you to know that those big feelings you have inside of you today when you saw those quotes and words from children and young people… well, those same children and young people also have those big feelings.

The difference is that you and I get to go home and have agency over our lives. They don’t.

We know that this is all fixable, and that’s how we can and should use the privilege of that agency we hold. We need to go about fixing it.

You can read more about what the Guardian had to say here.

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