Shaftesbury Young People’s Siblings United Programme has joined the efforts of The Siblings Day Foundation to amplify the celebration of Siblings Day on Monday 10 April 2017, to give a voice to young people and encourage meaningful contact with siblings while in care or adoption.
10 April is marked as National Siblings Day in the United States, however, it is not federally recognised like Mother's and Father's Day and it is not recognised in the UK. Dr. Bob Goldfield, CEO of Shaftesbury Young People says, “We want to advocate and give our voice to Siblings Day to highlight the strong bond that exists between siblings is vital for children’s overall health and emotional wellbeing and we must not overlook this important bond which lasts a lifetime.”
The NSPCC Report, “Children who go missing from care” established that one of the main reasons why children run away from foster care or children’s homes was to see their siblings. This was also echoed by the article “Huge surge in instances of children going missing from foster care” reporting 6,596 children ran away to see their family.
The Shaftesbury Young People’s Siblings United programme reunites brothers and sisters who are separated by care. The programme advocates and facilitates ongoing contact while they are living apart. The project activities involve reuniting siblings through residential camps and one day events that provide a mixture of adventure activities and aspects of mindfulness. One young person says about the camps, “One of the best experiences – it is a family.” Another says, “Camp has been amazing, I just cannot fully describe how friendly, caring, patient and understanding the staff has been. The cook was brilliant. And the kids, lets just say that there was a huge variety – the mischievous, the cunning, the relentless and the jolly. If you do not come to camp you are completely out of your mind!”
There were 70,440 looked after children in England at 31 March 2016, an increase of 5% compared to 2012. There are no official figures for the number of siblings groups in care, however, the 2015 report by Family Rights Group,” What happens to siblings in the care system? “was the first report that established that 49.5% of siblings were when they entered the care system in England. The 2009 Ofsted Report,” Keeping in Touch” highlighted that 56% had contact with a brother or sister at least once a month while 12% had no contact with any siblings.
Social Workers and Foster Carers who have been on the camps have seen a definite improvement in the temperament of the children in their care. One Foster Carer says, “…learnt more from attending the camps over the summer than their sessions over the past 6 months at CAMHS.”
We are asking everyone who has a sibling to help us promote Siblings United Siblings Day Campaign by posting and tweeting a picture of themselves with their sibling(s) using #SiblingsDay on Monday 10th April 2017. You can also help support us by donating to our campaign to help reunite siblings separated by care http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fund/siblingsday
Importance of Siblings Relationships in other countries
In many parts of India, Mauritius and Nepal and by the diaspora from these backgrounds that have settled elsewhere, “Raksha Bandhan” (bond of protection) or simply “rakhi”(sacred thread) is a Hindu religious and secular festival to celebrate the love and responsibilities within the sibling relationship. It has also been observed by Sikhs in Pakistan. The day is observed the day of the full moon of the Hindu lunisolar calendar month of Shravana (usually falling in the month of August).
In Sanskrit Raksha means protection and Bandhan ‘to tie’. So, Raksha Bandhan means "knot of protection" During the ceremony, along with a prayer for his prosperity and happiness, a sister ties a rakhi on her brother's wrist as a symbol of sister’s love towards brother. Likewise, a brother promises to protect and take care of his sister under all circumstances. To many, festival rakhi transcends beyond biological relationships and extends to diverse ethnic groups and ritually lay emphasis on harmony and love.
In some parts of the United States, 10 April is marked as National Siblings Day. However, this day is not federally recognised as Mother's Day and Father's Day. The Siblings Day Foundation has been advocating for this day to have similar status and Mother’s and Father’s Day. Siblings Day Foundation was incorporated in 1997 and achieved non-profit status in 1999. It was Claudia Evart who set out to honour the memory of her brother and sister who died in childhood through marking a day for Siblings as a holiday. This proposal was supported by the then U.S. Representative for New York's 12th congressional district, Carolyn Maloney. On 26 September 2005, she introduced it into the official Congressional Record of the United States Congress. The Siblings Day Foundation has also being working with the UN Estonian Ambassador, Sven Jürgenson and the President from the Republic of Estonia UN Resolution on Siblings Day.
The intention behind the siblings day no matter where in the world is to celebrate and honour this relationship. Siblings United Programme would like to join The Siblings Day Foundation in their efforts. Hence we picked the same date, 10 April, so we can amplify the voice of those children and young people who do not have the opportunity to see their siblings everyday.