Putting on Christmas dinner
This Christmas, the hopes of young people are hanging by a thread. For many children whose lives are threatened by abuse, exploitation and neglect, Christmas can be a really tough time.
Laura, a support worker for young people in care, tells us how she keeps hope alive at Christmas.
What our support worker does
Being a stable presence
Laura is an intensive support worker at Inside Out in Essex. She works with young people aged 13-18 who are in care. Some are victims of domestic violence, others have families with a history or drug and alcohol use.
She’s a stable presence in their life, supporting them for up to 18 months. Together, they build a trusting relationship, which allows them take next steps, like living independently or reuniting with family.
We have the time to be available to them
what is hope to Laura
Hope to Laura is seeing the positive. 'We help young people see hope in themselves and raise their self-esteem. When they feel good about themselves, they’re able to feel more hopeful about their future.'
'One young person I work with is in contact with family, but contact tends to result in verbal abuse and blame. This young person reaches out to me, because his relationship with his family is difficult.'
'It’s so important for young people to have someone who cares for them. It’s our job to show them there are a lot of good people in the world and remind them that people do care and just want what’s best for them.'
Christmas isn’t like on TV
'Christmas is an especially difficult time. The media portrays Christmas as a happy time, families spending time together and exchanging presents. This leaves young people thinking, why isn’t my life like that? Many young people we work with have no contact with family.'
why isn't my life like that?
'We help young people open up about how they’re feeling about Christmas. We try to manage their expectations about how families can and do struggle at this time. For example, letting them know that all families can argue.'
'Some of those who do see their family at Christmas worry about what if it doesn’t go well? We support them to have realistic expectations and cope with situations which don’t go to plan.'
Putting on Christmas dinner
'Last year, the service put on a Christmas lunch for young people. It was organised at a community centre and everyone ate lunch together. Some young people had never had Christmas dinner like this before so giving them something traditional was lovely.'
'They had presents too although we didn’t have the budget to give them what many young people ask for at Christmas. We try to show that it’s not about money or the number of gifts they might get but help them to understand and enjoy simple things.'
Keep hope alive
This has been a tough year for young people. They have never been so isolated and their lives have never been so fundamentally disrupted.
We provide support for young people in crisis, counselling for survivors of abuse, neglect and exploitation, drug treatment for those misusing substances and meditation for families going through trauma.
This Christmas, we’re stepping up the fight for young people’s hope. And you can help by offering your words of support.