Imagine losing your Father and your Mother is unable to look after you. Then imagine having five of your brothers and sisters separated, continually moving around, never knowing when you are going to see them.
This is the desperate situation six brothers and sisters faced three years ago.
Their Father had sadly passed away and their Mother had been unable to look after them due to mental health issues. The siblings, all aged between five and thirteen, had spent over two years moving around different homes including with foster carers and living with their Aunties and Uncles, but they were never all together. They lived their lives with chaos and unpredictability and as a result, the sibling bond suffered tremendously.
The different carers, although with great intentions, didn’t know each other and this made the situation more difficult. On the rare occasion contact was arranged for the brothers and sisters, foster carers and family members found the situation too difficult to handle. The children would be lively and chaotic, bickering with each other and unable to handle the situation after their traumatic experiences. The contact was found to be unsafe and unmanageable and the brothers and sisters were left separated.
When the six siblings were referred to Siblings Together by their social worker, we quickly realised that the key to helping these siblings was to understand the sibling dynamic that had been created. Alongside this, we believe that a safe environment is imperative but allowing children to just be children and to work through difficulties that they may have is key to helping the sibling relationships thrive.
With the support of our volunteers, Monthly Activity Day Leader and Siblings Together’s Director Delma Hughes, we could provide the time and expertise to help the siblings by arranging activities with the children, focusing on their sibling dynamic and upbringing. Within four sessions of MADs, we were able to see a marked difference in the sibling relationship. Their behaviour could still be extremely lively but as they only received positive attention and this was managed in a safe environment, the sibling interactions became more meaningful.
As with all of the siblings that attend our activities, reflection became an important aspect of each session they attended. Simply asking them how they felt with their brothers and sisters after playing a game, or overcoming arguments by asking them what they felt could have gone better, we were able to determine the root of the issues, and help them to overcome day-to-day difficulties of personal relationships.
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