The Christmas period can undoubtedly be a difficult and tumultuous time for many who experience complex needs. This festive time often brings exaggerated feelings of isolation, loneliness as well as a sense of unfulfillment when reflecting back on what the year has brought, especially for young vulnerable adults. For a horde of young people who require support, it is vital that establishments and organisations promote the idea of having a chosen family, and that YP’s understand the importance of one.
Many of those who leave their ‘family unit’ are not left with a choice; a toxic living environment, escaping an abusive partner, risk / history of being sexually exploited are just a handful of reasons why someone may be forced out. A chosen family is all about understanding and respecting the boundaries of an individual, recognising that the majority are not seeking specific people to fulfil typical family roles they have previously been deprived of, but to act as the healthy support system they have not been fortunate enough to experience.
Another subgroup that we should especially think about is Separated Children Seeking Asylum (SCSA’s), young people seeking asylum in the UK is not an abnormality, nor is it a new phenomenon, children entering are fleeing situations such as war, a multitude of types of abuse and economic hardships. Many will have little to no contact with those they have left back at home, so the Christmas period, a typically joyous time to be surrounded by family, can be particularly triggering, so it is again important that a sufficient system is in place to provide support.
Christmas, as we know, is a holiday traditionally celebrated by a few religions. Despite the inherent commercialisation of the holidays, with us now seeing the festivities being acclaimed outside religion, those who choose not to celebrate Christmas at all should still be respected, and those who are living in supported accommodation should have the choice as to whether or not they wish to partake in any events put on by the support provider. These are organised to bring young people sharing the same experience of requiring care together in a light-hearted way.
At The Beehive Project, our ethos ensures we not only provide tailor-made support packages based on the individual, establishing the often complex needs of a young person and addressing this accordingly, but to also create a sense of familiarity and ‘family’, whatever that may mean to them. Over the Christmas period, we organised some events for our support users to socialise outside of our accommodation and to also provide some light relief at what can be a stress and anxiety inducing time. This included taking our YP’s to watch the Christmas lights being turned on, going to The Mayflower Theatre to watch panto and taking them for lunch and setting up a tree decoration competition with those in semi-independent / supported accommodation. We also delivered Christmas hampers to people living in these places so they could cook a Christmas dinner together. We were also lucky enough to receive donations of board games for our YP’s to play. All of this plays a part in enforcing healthy relationships within a support environment.