Love in action

It is well-evidenced that trauma has a deep-rooted impact on our emotional, physical, and social development, which can impede our ability to navigate the world and feel safe.

Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. 1 John 3:18

Stability is a bit of a buzz word in the care system. It is well-evidenced that trauma has a deep-rooted impact on our emotional, physical, and social development, which can impede our ability to navigate the world and feel safe. Traumatic experiences have long-lasting and sometimes permanent effects, even when these events have occurred pre-birth or early on in a child’s life. For children who enter the care system, it is recognised that the system itself can exacerbate and enhance instability, with children often experiencing multiple placements and a conveyor belt of changing relationships. Thus, stability is about emphasising the importance of prioritising consistency and continuity for children who have experienced trauma and loss, recognising that it is only when children experience stability – secure, safe, consistent love and support – that they can begin to find healing from their past experiences and go on to reach their full potential.

While the way in which the care system enables stability for young people needs much improvement, change is also an inevitable part of life and cannot always be avoided. We know that for children and young people who have experienced trauma or loss, navigating change and transition can be particularly challenging. As a result, key transition points can feel precarious for children who are care-experienced. This is particularly true for teenagers who are faced with changes in education, friendship groups, and in the new freedoms available to them in their later teenage years. These young people do not just need places to stay, they need families and communities who will wrap around them and help them to navigate all the ups and downs and changes of life. They need church communities who will come alongside them, spend quality time with them, teach them valuable life skills, and help them see their worth and value. They need people who will believe in their potential, encourage them, stick by them, and show them love and grace, no matter what. Stability is not enabled by just one person or family. It comes when all those around a child step in and play their part.

All these things become even more important when thinking about unaccompanied asylum-seeking children (UASC). This week is National Refugee Week and we are reminded of the 5,000 UASC in the care system in England, who comprise 6% of the care population.1 Many of these young people have made treacherous journeys to the UK by themselves and have experienced significant loss and trauma along the way. 86% of UASC are aged 16 years and over,2 which means that upon arrival, not only do they wrestle with the changes in education, employment, and future planning that all young people face at this age, but they also have to grapple with a new culture, context, and language all on their own whilst navigating the trauma of their past experiences. Stability is just as important for these young people as every other child and young person in our care system. They too need families and communities who will be there for them and enable them to experience the stability and support that they need.

Radical hospitality and unconditional love are the hallmarks of the Church and have been so for the past 2000 years. We who follow Jesus have each experienced His unconditional love and grace when we did not deserve it. We know a Father who embraced us when we were in our sin, brokenness, and shame, and who welcomed us home as His children. We know what it is like to be seen for who we are and who we could become rather than what we have done or what we have been through. And so, we are called to love those the world has forgotten about or given up on.

At Home for Good, we have the incredible privilege of hearing story after story of how individual Christians, families, and churches are showing unconditional love and radical hospitality to older children in care. One family have welcomed a teenage girl into their home when no one else would have her. One couple have adopted the teen they were fostering to solidify their lifelong commitment to her. One family who are having a tough time with their adopted teenage son have experienced an outpouring of kindness, generosity, and practical help from their church community. Another family have opened their home to an extraordinary number of UASC, helping them to feel safe and accepted, and teaching them vital life skills. This is the beauty and power of the Church putting love into action. Because it truly does take a village to raise a child, and to help children and young people find the stability they need.


References to statistics can be found here.

Author:
Rebecca for Home for Good


Date published:
June 2021


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