Delma Hughes, founder of Siblings Together, has worked for many years with children in care and vulnerable children in her capacity as art therapist. Delma’s life has not been the most straightforward, having been brought up within the care system. Delma's childhood was spent mainly separated from her siblings, which led to the foundation of the idea for Siblings Together, which is to give children the opportunity to spend time in a holiday environment with their siblings.
Research by Children’s Rights and the Hadley Research Centre found that 84% of children are separated from their siblings in care and the idea formulated by Delma was to strengthen their relationships and bonds between separated siblings which could begin to be formed over a week at one of our camps. Delma and friends piloted the first ever sibling camps in the United Kingdom in 2007. In addition to the summer residential camps, Delma has also developed three further strands of Siblings Together. These are our Monthly Activity Days, our Buddying Scheme and our Creative Connection’s programmes. We run three Monthly Activity Days a month, two in North London and one in South London. Our Buddying scheme is ran in partnership with Family Action and is being researched by Oxford University. Our Creative Connection's programmes include creative writing projects in partnership with the creative writing charity Arvon, a film and TV project at the Roundhouse Theatre in Camden and performance weeks at the Young Vic Theatre and Questors Theatre.
We find it crucial to offer children in care the best possible opportunities available to learn new skills
It is vital to inspire children about the potential which they possess but many cases rarely have the opportunity to access this.
Delma’s art therapy background means that the activities which the children partake in often have a creative dimension which range from photography to drawing and painting. Children respond well to building upon relationships when in the context of a creative environment. Art therapy is empowering for the children and facilitates a strong sense of identity. Art therapists are experts in non-verbal communication and have the ability to engage children who do not easily accept other forms of therapies such as verbal therapy. Delma qualified as an art therapist in the mid 90’s and continues this on a professional basis.
Prior to founding Siblings Together, Delma helped co-found two charities. One charity for care leavers who help adults who have left the care system and a charity for survivors of childhood abuse called The National Association of People Abused in Childhood (NAPAC). Delma continues to champion people in care and care leavers, being a long standing member of the all parliamentary party group for looked-after children for eighteen years and part of the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) consultation group for looked-after children. Delma has consulted with the Department for Children Schools and Families to develop and improve legislation involving siblings in care. During 2014, Delma co-established The Careleaver’s Voice All Parliamentary Group, an ever growing collective of those who have grown up in the care system post 18yrs who wish to contribute towards change in the care system today.