We are implementing a new feature in Virtual Memory Box that will help siblings in care maintain their relationship
A report by the Children’s Commissioner looking at the importance of Siblings in Care, estimated that 37% of children with a sibling – 20,000 children – are separated from a sibling when placed in care. For some, the chance of being separated is far greater: 93% of older children placed in semi-independent accommodation are separated from siblings. Children who come into care because of a disability or because of issues with their behaviour are also more likely to be separated.
Benefits of maintaining sibling relationships include:
• A strong emotional connection, with an emphasis on love and joy
• The importance of shared experiences (both the regular and the exceptional)
• Mutual support to one another, both practical and emotional
• The enduring nature of the relationships, and the sense this provides of unconditional support.
One care experienced young person said: “I’m second oldest of six – nine if you count my lovely step-brothers – and I’ve had to spend most of my adult life as a care-experienced person rebuilding those relationships…I do have lovely relationships with all my other siblings, I’ve just had to put in the work. And I shouldn’t have had to.”
Working in partnership with Local Authorities, we have ongoing conversations and feedback about Virtual Memory Box, and the issues of siblings in care was one raised as a priority. So, we’ve now developed a feature that lets siblings grant permission to view each other’s memories, to help bridge the gap while they’re apart.
They’ll be able to see how their brothers or sisters are doing, and hopefully even find comfort and reassurance by sharing moments of joy in each others’ photos, videos and experiences. It will help them feel they are still in each others’ lives, and sharing memories.
It is just one new important feature that is down to ongoing feedback Local Authorities are giving us. This is why it’s essential to us to work in partnership, to continually shape Virtual Memory Box for the children and young people it serves – and every local authority partner benefits from features and improvements we implement that have been suggested by another.