Thursday, 16 August 2012

It's the little things that make the difference

Children North East families and parenting service has been busy this summer providing inexpensive activities and good experiences for whole families. Families whose lives are overshadowed by misfortune and hardship, often don't include much fun. So there have been picnics in the park, Diamond Jubilee parties, day trips to the seaside and 'mini Olympics' - races in the park.

One of our family and parenting staff enjoys taking photographs, she takes her camera to all these events and  captures all the children individually, with their siblings and in family groups. In her own time and at her own expense she prints the photographs and organises them into albums - one for each family. It sounds like a nice, kind thing to do, a little 'extra' for each family, until you realise that many families possess few or even no pictures of their children.

A family are evicted from their home, possessions including photographs are easily lost. A woman flees domestic violence, she doesn't want to draw attention to her plans by taking photographs so they are left behind. Children of the same parents are separated when the parents separate, there are no pictures of the children together. Printed photographs not in albums are mislaid or damaged, digital photographs on phones are lost when the phone is stolen or stops working. And so on.

Imagine not having photographs of yourself as a child when everyone else does? Imagine being a child at school and the whole class is asked to bring in a photograph of them as a baby when the topic is family history, but you don't have one? You can't take part, you feel excluded, different (yet again).

A few photographs in an album is a small thing but can make a huge difference to disadvantaged families and children - a sense of identity, memories of good times, family history, a keepsake to treasure, a sense of belonging to the same society as everyone else. So thank you for your thoughtfulness, kindness and generosity ___ (you know who you are), it is little things like this that touches lives.

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