Today is National Siblings Day – a way to celebrate brothers and sisters everywhere, but also to think about how we understand the importance of sibling relationships more.
Includem doesn’t just support individual young people. We recognise they are part of a family, often with brothers and sisters who are experiencing some of the same impact from challenges within families and relationships that have broken down. Sisters and brothers are often a crucial source of support.
That’s why we are supporting the campaign ‘Stand up for siblings’ which was launched last month. This campaign is looking at children’s rights and focusing on practical and concrete changes that can be made at a practice level to improve contact between brothers and sisters in care.
To highlight the importance of sibling relationships we’re sharing the story of Gordon and Kirsty, two young people who have grown up in kinship care.
Kirsty and Gordon’s Story
Kirsty was 14 when Includem started to support her to live with her gran in a kinship care arrangement.
Although Kirsty was referred by social work on her own, it became very clear that one of the challenges was the relationship she had with her brother Gordon. Our input was therefore designed to support them both, and their gran, so they could remain together.
Kirsty wasn’t attending school and was at risk in the community. At the same time Gordon told us he was scared of his sister and would get up earlier in the morning to go to school so he could avoid her. The kinship arrangement was at risk of breaking down because their relationship had broken down.
Includem’s support planning process puts the young person and their goals at the centre, and it was through this that Kirsty acknowledged one of her main goals was to improve her relationship with Gordon. We organised joint activities with them with a mix of fun things to do and focused work on understanding why they had a difficult relationship.
Both were able to talk about past experiences with their mum and the impact this has on them now and to think bout how to better manage their emotions so that they could support each other when they were feeling upset or frustrated.
As a result of this support Kirsty and Gordon are still living with their gran and have a stronger relationship with each other, a source of mutual support.