“Devastating”, “damaging”, “broke my heart”: When brothers and sisters are separated

“Devastating”, “damaging” and “broke my heart”. These are just some of the words care-experienced young people I have spoken to as part of the Staying Connected project, and who are currently serving a prison sentence themselves, have used to describe what it feels like to be separated from their brothers and sisters. Sometimes this has been through the fact that they are in prison, but it has also been where they were in different care placements when they were younger, or where one of them has been in secure accommodation.

The Promise recognised the importance of sibling relationships and that they should be “respected and protected”. Recent sibling legislation also means that local authorities now have a duty to ensure that siblings are supported to stay together where appropriate, and where they are unable to stay together that they are able to keep in touch and maintain these relationships.

The Staying Connected project is a joint project between the Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration and Families Outside, and explores where siblings cannot be together, where one is care-experienced and one is placed in secure accommodation or is in prison. While this may affect a relatively small number of children and young people within the wider care-experienced community, we know almost nothing about these experiences of separation. They are a group who are often overlooked but yet this unique type of separation has the potential to be significant within their lives.

We are coming towards the end of the data collection phase of the project but I am still looking to speak to the following groups of people:

  • children and young people who are care-experienced and whose sibling is or has been in prison or secure accommodation
  • children and young people who are currently, or have recently been, in prison or secure accommodation and have a care-experienced sibling
  • social workers and Children’s Reporters who have worked with these children and young people

We have a group of care-experienced young people working as Consultants with us on this project and they have created a video explaining what taking part in the research involves for children and young people. Thanks to Aimee, Chantelle, Chloe and Michael for designing the video and in particular to Chantelle for all her work on actually creating it. It looks amazing and please check it out!

If you are interested in taking part in the research, work with groups who might be interested, or just want to know more, please get in touch with the project researcher Kirsty Deacon:

Kirsty.Deacon@scra.gov.uk          07494 675189

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