There are plenty of positive stories that happen daily in the children's homes. My recent experience has confirmed that you don't have to look hard to find the good news, it's common. Fun, smiles, caring about each other, laughter, understanding, achievement, progress, all of these things happen every day, the same as in any family anywhere. Being a created family is one way of looking at children's homes.
When it comes to good news stories these past years children's homes have found it impossible to get any made available for the public to read. People make their minds up on what is presented. Public perception matters. Public support matters. Praise, approval, expressions of confidence, are essential for healthy identity and development.
I asked children's homes to send me their good news stories. Here's some of them. I know once I start sharing the good news stories I've been collecting I'll get many more sent to me. This is the first sharing of good news stories.
These four stories come from all over the country. All I had to do was ask.
A young woman hadn't attended school for a year before she came to her children's home. Before her children's home going missing from care had been a regular feature in her life. One year later she's back with her parents with 6 GCSE's and now enrolled in local college. One year turned out to be a life changing experience for her. She is proud of herself. All of those who have shared that year with her are proud of her too.
Another young person came to their children's home never having been able to make friends and refusing to socialise, the reasons we don't need to dwell on. They joined the Army Cadets. With encouragement and support by everyone at their home they had a full week away with the Cadets and returned telling people, "I loved it". They are now meeting their new friends regularly and joining in with activities. They are happy, feeling accepted, part of society, being positively involved with others their own age and telling everyone just how great they feel.
A 15 year old girl, struggling with school and getting on with her peers. She loves horses and her workers at the home arranged for her to have fortnightly riding lessons. On the intervening weeks she was encouraged by staff to volunteer at the stables. This was designed to improve her interpersonal skills. The owner of the stables was happy to facilitate this arrangement and offered to let her earn extra lessons by doing so. The arrangement has been a tremendous success. The young woman's confidence has greatly increased and she has told staff that she enjoys the lessons she earns even more than those that are paid for because she knows she has achieved these herself. The stables owner employed her in a paid capacity over the summer period. She met and exceeded all expectations and subsequently she has returned to education in a positive frame of mind.
Our fourth good news story comes to you exactly in the way it was sent to me.
"When this young person came to our home it was very clear that he would need a lot of support to help him turn his young life around and to help him understand that not all adults are rotten, and life can be most excellent.
It was a rocky start for everyone, but we soon got the hang of things as did our young person. We were able to meet his needs, and we were able to encourage the young person to work alongside us so that he was investing in his own future.
For nearly two years, we all worked hard together as a team, young person included, and over time the results were brilliant. We now had a totally different little person in our home compared to what we had when he first walked over our door step. As a result of all the time, effort, care and consistency, our young person was finally ready for foster care. He finally found his forever home with two carers and the transition into his new foster home could not have gone any better. Happy days."
Tears of joy welling up in my eyes. I hope they are in yours too.
These stories were there all the time. Every day. All I had to do was ask.
We cannot let this joy be unsung. There's many more good news stories to be shared.