The Room Exhaled as The Body Image Myth Smashed at their Feet

 

body image myth - the lies we're told that make us feel bad about ourselves

I think the above list startlingly sums up not just what our daughters have to contend with on a daily basis but everything that’s wrong with how women are portrayed in the movies, on TV, in magazines and newspapers and on social media – a Body Image Myth that is impossible to live up to. 

Ask any man, who has any level of maturity, if he wants a woman who looks like the above list and he’ll tell you that all he wants is a woman who will actually go out with him and accept him for what he is.  He doesn’t care about her eyebrows or the size of her feet or whether her boobs are big or not – all he wants is boobs of any shape or size.

But our young women have this image of perfection, this lie rammed down their throats at every turn.  They’re not allowed time to breathe, to find themselves, to work out who they are inside before they’re forced to look at themselves through the eyes of our judgemental social world and find themselves wanting.

Down that road lies eating disorders, depression, self-harm, obesity, failure at school, lack of self-esteem, plastic surgery, poor job prospects and missing out on a life that could be absolutely fabulous if only they could see themselves through the eyes of someone who loves them for who they are not what they look like.

Last year teengirl and I went along to the Dove Self-Esteem Project in London and we both came home slightly changed, different women – armed with the tools to challenge the myths that have manifested in the media and the fashion and beauty industries, armed with the knowledge that it’s all fake.  That what is inside us is what’s real and what’s beautiful.

And now Dove has struck up a partnership with the charity Girlguiding UK that they both hope will boost the body confidence of girls aged 7-14 all over the world.

The Perfect Woman list (pictured above) was actually created by a group of Girl Guide Peer Educators aged 14-25 in a bid to smash the Body Image Myth they all held before they descended upon Whitemoor Lakes in Staffordshire for their training weekend.

It was amazing for me to watch them provide the details for this list – they did it so easily.

And it was incredible to watch them come to the realisation – with the help of their own peer educator Laura Ede – that this perfect woman was absolutely and unutterably unattainable and that we are actually harming ourselves striving to be like her.

I watched the moment this recognition hit them, I watched as their faces lightened and brightened and their shoulders lifted a little.  I saw hope flood their faces.  And I heard the whole room exhale as they felt the freedom of their newfound understanding.

And I feel so privileged to have experienced such a liberating moment in these young girls lives.

These Peer Educators will take what they learned – their liberation from an unattainable myth – and spread that body confidence message across the UK.  They will, through fun activities, unmask society’s beauty myths, expose airbrushing and challenge unhealthy body talk.  They will give young Girl Guides the tools and encouragement to stand up and take action to stop unhealthy body ideals affecting the next generation of girls.

And the girls who take part in this huge empowering girls program will be working towards Girlguiding UK’s first body confidence badge – Free Being Me.

Laura Ede, 24, Chair of Girlguiding’s Peer Education National Co-ordination and Support Team said: “Free Being Me shows young people just how ridiculous this ‘Image Myth’ really is.  Young people today are under constant pressure to conform to impossible and unattainable standards of beauty in a society obsessed with image and appearance.”

The brand new badge comes in direct response to separate research by both Girlguilding UK and Dove that shows our young girls are drowning under the pressure of trying to reach unreachable and ridiculous beauty ideals:

The alarming research shows:

  1. 87% of girls aged 11-21 think they are judged more on looks than ability
  2. 1 in 5 girls of primary school age say they’ve been on a diet
  3. 1 in 4 girls aged between 11-21 would consider cosmetic surgery
  4. 38% of girls aged 11-21 say they have sometimes skipped meals to lose weight
  5. 47% of girls are unhappy with their looks
  6. Because they don’t like how they look:
  • 34% of girls miss out on swimming
  • 23% miss out on joining team sports or activities
  • 23% of girls won’t put their hands up in the classroom

These statistics are shocking and they’re describing your daughter, my daughter, your future daughter-in-law, your future granddaughter all suffering because of the Body Image Myth that we as adults, all too often, have bought into and perpetuate.

It’s time to stop it, to say no more: stop forcing your ideals down my daughter’s throat and stop making her feel bad for being a woman who doesn’t fit your unattainable idea of perfection.

I take my hat off to each and every Girlguiding Peer Educator in that room because they are going to help change our daughter’s worlds and give them the tools to challenge the norms, give them the body confidence to like themselves with all their flaws and the ability and give them the confidence to say “No More” to the body image myth perpetuated by our society.

 

This YouTube video, Evolution, was made by Dove and shows the unbelievable amount of photoshopping this gorgeous model’s picture is subjected to before it can be put in a magazine.


Is Your Mum’s Life as Ordinary as You Think? #It’sAMumThing

My mum’s 72, and I thought until I began writing this that she’d had quite an ordinary life raising me and my two older brothers in a boring little village in Scotland. 

But as I began to consider her life I realised it was far from conventional.

#ItsAMumThing #BYOM by Not on The High Street - celebrating our mums this Mothers Day

Over and above raising me and my oldest brother, my mum also raised a son with  learning difficulties in the 60’s and 70’s when there was very little help or  understanding.  She fought to get him into mainstream education and then she  fought to get him into special education when she realised he’d become a target  for bullies in his mainstream school aged just 5.

She stood as a councillor in a male dominated local council, was a member of the  village community council to ensure her children had a great community to grow  up in and was actively involved in fundraising and spreading the word for her  political party.

She started the first playgroup in the village and was a pioneer member of one of the first women’s groups in the village.

She moved to London with my dad for a while when my brothers were toddlers and she caused uproar upon her return to our little mining village when she walked down the high street wearing a miniskirt.

#ItsAMumThing #BYOM by Not on The High Street - celebrating our mums this Mothers Day

How about this flower made from maps instead of real flowers this Mothers Day?

Because we were never rich she didn’t get to go abroad until in her 50’s when she went on an 18-30 Club holiday to Tenerife!  My oldest brother, throwing his law degree to the wind had become a holiday rep:  I’ve seen the photographs of those holidays and believe me they out-partied every single one of the youngsters.

And when her, my dad and my middle brother, who continued to live with them until only recently, went to Florida they were met with a hurricane.  Everybody else was driving out of Florida as they were driving in.  Mum said: “It was just a wee bit of wind and rain.  I don’t know what they were running away from?”

#ItsAMumThing #BYOM by Not on The High Street - celebrating our mums this Mothers Day

She’s walked down Sunset Strip obliviously videoing the prostitutes, and partied so hard in Times Square when the Yankees won the World Series that she broke that prostitute filming  video camera.

And when oldest my brother came out as gay in the 90s mum didn’t bat an eyelid (and neither did my dad).  In fact, she made it easier for him to tell her:  When he said: “I’ve met someone special,” she replied: “What’s his name?”

Shortly after my brother came out I told my mum that at 22 I was pregnant (and single) with teenboy.  Her response: “There’s worse things than a baby.”

And she looked after teenboy every day so I could go to college to study journalism and then she did the same when I began working in newspapers.  If it wasn’t for her I wouldn’t have been able to study or work.

When I started to write this blog entry my plan to tell you all that getting to go to the Not On The High Street’s #BYOM event was a highlight for a woman who hadn’t had the most exciting life.  But as I began to write I realised that my mum, for all her adverse impact upon my self-esteem (that’s definitely a mum thing isn’t Shappi Khorsandi?), is a women who has really lived a life less ordinary in a very ordinary village where it’s still frowned upon to be different.

#ItsAMumThing #BYOM by Not on The High Street - celebrating our mums this Mothers Day

Mum, daughter & comedian – Shappi Khorsandi

My mum is mad, she’s up for anything.  She’s tired now she’s 72, and she’s annoying and a bit hard work now but I think a lot of that is down to me not wanting her to be old and forgetful.  I expect her to be the mum and granny she was in her 50’s.

But despite getting on a bit she still helps me with the kids and works hard on our business.  She gets excited about the small things in all of our lives; she likes to get drunk on sherry with my brother in law and annoy my dad; she wears bright colours and no make-up; she cuts her hair short cos she can’t be bothered doing anything with it and the only shoes she’ll wear are crocs or flip flops cos all the stilletos she wore in the 60s ruined her feet with massive bunions.

#ItsAMumThing #BYOM by Not on The High Street - celebrating our mums this Mothers Day

When I took her with me to the Not on the High Street event I was slightly embarrassed in a teenage kind of way by the Crocs on her feet and her blingtastic cardigan – I felt self-conscious again in a teenager kinda way by her parochial attempt to be glamorous – does anybody else revert to being a teenager if they spend more than a couple of hours with their mum?  We didn’t really circulate because she can’t stand for long now, so we sat and she ate lots of the delicious little nibbles that were handed round by delightful waiters who had lots of smiles for the old lady who would tried everything they brought to her especially the cakes.

If you sat down beside her she’d chat to you but otherwise she was quite happy on the white couch with her cocktails and canapés.  She sat there with a quiet confidence I hope to one day achieve.  She sat there and rocked with laughter at Shappi’s rudest of jokes.  And showed her naivete when she turned to me after Shappi’s final joke about a middle eastern man always gets his abandoned suitcase back in Paris and said: “I don’t get that one”.

I was supposed to review the event by Not On the High Street but instead I’ve wittered on about my mum.  But somehow I think that’ll be ok because it was an event celebrating mums.  And it turns out my croc wearing, short haired, bling loving, batty old mum’s life was always less ordinary and she should be celebrated for it.

Hmmm, who knew…?

This year for Mother’s Day I’ll be buying my mad old mum something from Not on The High Street cos she deserves something as different as she is.

#ItsAMumThing #BYOM by Not on The High Street - celebrating our mums this Mothers Day

I love the label on these earrings it makes them so much more special

#ItsAMumThing #BYOM by Not on The High Street - celebrating our mums this Mothers Day

the bar at 5 Cavendish Square at the #BYOM event from Not on the High Street

#ItsAMumThing #BYOM by Not on The High Street - celebrating our mums this Mothers Day

my wish on the wishing tree

In case you didn’t realise it my mum and I were at the Not on the High Street celebrating mums event at 5 Cavendish Square in London.

**I am a member of the Mumsnet Bloggers Network Research Panel, a group of parent bloggers who have volunteered to review products, services, events and brands for Mumsnet.  I have not paid for the product or to attend an event.  I have editorial content and retain full editorial integrity.  

Mumsnet Bloggers Network

Not on The High Street


Twenty One Pilots – An Open Letter

Teengirl dragged me to a gig where she described the band as “a screamo, ukulele playing, rapping, emo, piano playing, dance band” I thought this is a band that needs to pick a genre!

And so it was with no expectations I went along to see this gig in a tiny nightclub in Brighton filled with teenage girls and the odd very drunk thirty-something man – a few of whom got carried out of the audience by the bouncers while the teenagers all behaved themselves!

After my experience standing on the balcony of The Haunt looking down on the moving sea of bouncing girls I was moved to write an open letter to the two men of Twenty One Pilots.

Here it is:

Dear Tyler and Josh

As a mum in my early 40s with a life full of kids I don’t give over any of my time to listening to new music and new bands.  So I had never heard of you and despite teengirl trying desperately to get me to listen to you and repeatedly telling me I’d love you, I am saddened to say I resisted and so you were entirely new to me when I saw you on stage in your balaclava masks that Monday night.

To be honest with you I wasn’t looking forward to seeing a band who rap.  So I thank you from the bottom of my heart for not being stereotypical misogynistic, show off swag fuckery, violence inciting rappers.

I also appreciate that you don’t sing meaningless songs of great love or lost love or boppy pop shit with lyrics that make no sense or are overly sexually explicit for the age group listening to them.

With fame comes great responsibility: your songs could just be something to dance to or they could be the one thing that allows our teenagers to feel heard, listened to and understood.  I am grateful to you for taking that responsibility seriously by writing poems (and I do believe them to be poetry) that can change a teenager’s intention, open their heads and their hearts.  Too many in the public eye don’t take their responsibility seriously and far too many abuse the power given to them by the public (yes Mr Politician I am talking about you).

Tyler and Josh from Twenty One Pilots in Brighton

Twenty One Pilots

All we all want is to be heard and to be acknowledged, be that as adults, toddlers or teenagers and I thank you for writing lyrics and music that does just that.

I thank you for starting the conversation with our teenagers about self-harm and suicide, for opening your ears and your eyes so you can open theirs and mine.

Thank you for acknowledging that these very real and very strong emotions exist in their hearts and take over their brains.  As a mum, I appreciate your fear for our teenagers and I am grateful to you for telling them you understand.

Because sometimes just the understanding from an adult is all it can take to save a young person from the pit of hell.  Far too often we as parents and responsible adults push their fears to the side, don’t allow them to express them, tell them they’re not real, not to dwell on them, to just get over them.

Tyler from Twenty One Pilots sings out his emotions

Tyler putting his pain out there for all to see

As a parent I wonder if we do this because we are afraid that if we poke the monster, pull back the layers of this raw anguish we’ll make it worse for them?  And so they never get given the tools to deal with the pain of simply growing up in a society that says it’s not ok to feel when all they can do is feel as they look inside only to find themselves wanting.

And then when our children hurt themselves intentionally we rail against the world, god, the internet searching for someone to blame instead of visiting some introspection into our lives.

Thank you for writing raw, honest and authentic lyrics and music that really, truly speaks to teenagers: lyrics that let them know its ok to be different, to be curious, to wonder what if, to question the status quo, to ask how it might be changed for the better.

Teenagedom is the beginning of all things self: an egocentric rollercoaster of self-awareness, independence and pushing the boundaries.  And being a teenager means inspecting yourself far too often when the self-awareness monster rears his ugly head, feeling alone under the microscope of peers inside the institution we call school.

And so they pull down a mask and become a façade to fit in – something you, Tyler and Josh, obviously understand and are not afraid to admit.

Tyler from Twenty One Pilots at his piano at the Haunt Brighton

Tyler pulls down his mask

I cannot thank you enough for being authentic, honest and real.  You, Tyler, are a poet.  I hear haunting spectres of Sylvia Plath and Stevie Smith in your words.  When I was a teen their words were my saviours: they showed me I wasn’t alone, I wasn’t weird and that to question death and love in the same sentence was absolutely normal.  I take my hat off to you for your intelligent metaphorical rhymes that speak volumes to my daughter and other teenagers.

I love that you put intense, honest and empathetic lyrics to a bouncy happy beat – a beautiful metaphor of teenagerdom.  I feel your pain as I dance along.  And I understand teengirl just that little bit more when she tells me her favourite Twenty One Pilots song – her favourites change with her moods.  Just as I love that you break the music rules, don’t fit into a box and can’t be labelled.

Tyler from Twenty One Pilots standing on his piano at the Haunt Brighton

Bathed in the light

Teengirl gets that you get her.  She bounces to your beats and shouts along to your lyrics in thecool way only a teenager can.  And I know that your words have gone a long way to helping her heal and understand.

Over my many years loving music there have been only a few musicians with whom I have become obsessed, even fewer who have touched me and spoken directly to me.  In that short list you’ll find Janis Joplin, The Doors, Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan and BrightEyes.  And now, Twenty One Pilots have joined that list because I am already quite obsessed with your rhythms and your rhymes.

Thank you for respecting the responsibility of fame.  Please don’t let the industry change you.

I can only begin to imagine how proud your mums are of both of you.

With lots of love and thanks,

Mumtoteens

PS What is a Pantaloon?

Twenty One Pilots drummer Josh

Twenty One Pilots - Tyler and Josh

Twenty One Pilots – Tyler and Josh

Tyler from Twenty One Pilots at his piano at the Haunt Brighton

Tyler from Twenty One Pilots at his piano at the Haunt Brighton

Sea of teenagers hands in the air at Twenty One Pilots gig

Sea of teenagers hands in the air at Twenty One Pilots gig


The Zeitgeist of My 2013

As we approach the most depressing day of the year, Blue Monday, I’m already feeling melancholy so I decided to look back as a first step to looking forward and I discovered that if 2012 was the year I learned the fragility of the body and life, 2013 was the year I learned the vulnerability of the psyche.

I’ve had highs and lows, tears and laughter, one-offs and one to manys, but I hope that my zeitgeist might help me learn a lot about myself and help me create 2014’s adventures:

1. Lost 3 stone and fixed most that ailed me:

After being diagnosed insulin resistant in 2012 I changed my diet and lifestyle at the end of January ‘13.  In a year I’ve lost 3 stone, brought my underactive thyroid up to normal level and lowered my cholesterol.

I feel healthier than I have done in years.

2. Got famous among teens on Tumblr as the mum who got chatted up (kinda) by Jack Barakat at the All Time Low gig in London on Valentines Day:

From the stage he looked up, saw teengirl standing next to a girl who was at least a foot taller than her and obviously thought she was much younger than she is and shouted up: “Are your parents with you?”  She shouted back: “Yes, she’s there,” pointing behind her to me.

And I waved at both Jack and Alex like a loony as Jack put his hand to his ear in a phone shape and mouthed: “Call me” at me.

Teengirl has been dining out on that ever since!

3. I went to Downing Street:

Because of this very blog I was invited as a guest of Mumsnet, The Railway Children and Aviva to a reception at Downing Street hosted by Samantha Cameron.  And I was one of the few people selected to meet and chat with Sam Cam.

It was the most surreal, incredible, amazing day of my life.  An experience I’m highly unlikely to replicate and one I’ll remember for the rest of my life.

4. Teenboy and I didn’t talk for 3 months:

For some secret reason teenboy opted not to go to Camp America for the summer and returned home instead.  Just 3 weeks later he was going off the rails, a week later he’d totally lost the plot and stormed out.  We didn’t speak for 3 months.

I descended into depression and apathy and anger.  My hair began to fall out and continued to do so for many months. I stopped sleeping and I obsessed about my ability as a mother.  I stopped writing on here, anywhere.  I questioned myself over and over again desperately trying to work out where I’d gone wrong as a parent.  I went back and forth in my mind over what to do for the best: do I seek him out and talk to him or leave him be to come back on his own.  In the end I never made a decision I just let it linger on all the while feeling sadder and madder.

In the end he came back just before he went back to Uni and apologised.

But if I’m honest, I’ve still not properly recovered from it.  It has caused ripples that have surfed through many parts of my life and my psyche still feels very vulnerable and my self-belief has been seriously dented.  And our relationship remains fragile.

5. Teengirl got counselling:

In 2012 teengirl’s friend committed suicide and then she was bullied by an ex-friend who spread rumours about her sexuality.  I took her to see a counsellor who I’d seen several years ago who practices new and innovative approaches.  Teengirl had one session with him with his Metaphors of Movement.  This was during summer half term holidays and when we left neither of us were quite sure if it had made a difference.

The summer holidays came and went and by the time teengirl went back to school in September my happy, outgoing, confident, strong and feisty girl had come back to me.

6. I became an award winning poet

I wrote a poem entitled Around the World in 80 words, entered it into the South of England Show competition and won with almost full marks.

7. Went on a streetwalk with homeless outreach workers:

Thanks to Mumsnet and The Railway Children I got to go out with outreach workers from New Horizons Youth Centre onto the streets of London to see how homeless young people live and how these workers try really hard to help them get off the streets and into safety.

Eye-opening, heartbreaking and humbling.

8. I saw Roger Waters perform The Wall live and cried:

I’ve loved Roger Waters since I first heard Radio Kaos when I was 18.  The Wall was my go to album when teengirl was in the hospital as a baby with Comfortably Numb being my soundtrack to that horrendous time.

And with the opening bars to the wall crashing down I cried on and off for two hours as I sat in awe at one of my heroes.

9. Took teengirl to a Dove Self Esteem Workshop:

Another day I can never replicate that more mothers should be able to share with their daughters.  I spent time with hundreds of teenage girls, listening to their worries and hearing their hopes and strengths.  I felt like I was in the presence of some of our future female leaders.

This event gave me the greatest gift a mother can get: I learned that my daughter looks up to me that she thinks I’m fearless and amazing.  And I’m an inspiration to her.

10. Supported teenboy through yet another argument with his estranged dad:

Teenboy has issues with his dad who lives abroad and who has never supported him financially or emotionally since he was 3 years old.  This time his dad had tried to tell him how to live his life, told him if he’d raised him he’d be different and better, etc, etc, etc.  Things a child should never hear from a parent.  Teenboy’s a man of 20 now though and he shouted back this time.  He said all the things that he’s kept inside for 10 years.

I got the call at midnight from my little devastated boy who doesn’t understand why his dad doesn’t seem to love him.

I went to Southampton the next day and we talked about his dad, their relationship, or lack thereof.  I was worried he’d spiral down into depression again but he assured me he was doing ok.  He clarified this when he told me he felt like a weight had been lifted off his shoulders by telling his dad what he’d wanted to say for many years.  He hadn’t said it before because he was afraid he wouldn’t be loved if he voiced his feelings.

That night teenboy texted me to tell me he loved me, to thank me for always being there for him and for always loving him no matter what.

Our relationship has begun to be repaired thanks to an argument with his dad and we’re working on it, it’s not normal yet and still quite fragile, but it’s better.  And he knows I will always be here for him.

 * * * * * * * *

Yes 2013 was quite hard in some ways but in others it was out of this world amazing.  I’ve learnt so much about myself and occasionally the kids have let me have a little insight into their inner workings.

So this year I’m going to continue to be fearless and strong by running headfirst into some new adventures including:

  1. Teengirl and I are launching a t-shirt line featuring some of her artwork and some of my photographs.  Guess what everybody got for their Christmas?
  2. I’ve begun an NLP for Life Coaching diploma.
  3. I’m in the midst of creating a healthy weight loss system based around the principles I used to lose weight and keep it off.  It’s due to launch in around April/May.

Have you looked back and liked what you saw?  Have you been spurned on to take action to make 2014 better than last year?


Talk to Your Teenager about Homelessness

Just a few months ago shortly after coming home from Uni for the summer Teenboy became an arse.

He was a rude, disrespectful, incredibly angry, abusive, cruel, party animal who turned our calm and happy home into a battlefield where we all walked on eggshells.

That is, until he lost his temper one time too many.  He shouted and swore and railed at me.  He blamed me, he ranted at me, he called me names and screamed at me that I’d failed him.

And then he stormed out.

He didn’t return home for 3 months and in that time we talked only once.

But luckily for him and for me, he had my parents to go and live with.

If he hadn’t had that I dread to think where he would’ve ended up.

But one thing’s sure, if he’d disappeared that night and I didn’t know where he was staying despite him being a 19 year old adult I would’ve reported him to the police as a missing person.

Just a week ago I went out in London’s Kings Cross with outreach workers who try their damndest to help young people living on the streets.

And the whole time I was walking around the streets of Kings Cross in the biting freezing December cold I don’t think I’ve ever felt so grateful to have not lost teenboy to our city’s streets.

What Hell Must They Be Running From?

There are children and young people living on the streets of all our cities, not just London, who have never experienced parental support or love.  For them, sleeping rough is better than living at home.

I can’t even begin to imagine the hell their homelives must have been.  It took me an hour to heat up after being out in the biting cold wind of that December night.  I can’t imagine spending day and night being that cold but I can imagine wanting to be free from an  emotionally freezing cold home where violence or emotional abuse is the norm.

I cannot picture a life that is so bad that I would rather sell myself for sex than go home.  I can’t begin to imagine sleeping outside with danger at every turn: drugs, pimps, paedophiles, thieves, people who take advantage, victimise and brutalise again and again.

But sometimes, just sometimes it’s one argument too many that sends a teenager hurtling onto our streets.  It can be the high emotion of simply being a teenager, the feeling that nobody understands them, the pain of trying to fit in and failing, the fear of disappointing parents and friends.  Sometimes, just sometimes it can be just one tiny thing that tips them over the edge and then the stubbornness borne of being a teenager will prevent them from returning home.  Or they think you don’t want them cos they’re too much work, too emotional, too angry, too hurt, too teenager.  And so they stay there on the streets that will ruin them forever.

Not Missing

As cold day turned to freezing night Pete Middleton, an outreach worker specialising in helping young homeless people from New Horizon Youth Centre took me out with him on his rounds of the 3 train stations in and around Kings Cross and the surrounding streets.

As we walked and talked Pete constantly kept a keen (and very experienced) eye out for any child or young person his intuition told him could be vulnerable or homeless.

It’s Pete and his team’s job to reach out to these young people night after night, to spend time with them in the hope of gaining their trust so they can help them.  If they’re over 16 he’ll try over and over to get them to come along to the New Horizon Youth Centre where they’ll find structure, food, a shower, help and advice to get a roof over their heads and, hopefully, a future.

I was amazed when Pete told me that the majority of young people they help have never been reported as missing.

And it’s a sad fact that New Horizon and other similar projects are unable to physically help under 16s.  They HAVE to refer them to social services.

Sadly, a lot of these homeless children have run away from social services involvement in their lives, or their family has put the fear of god into them as regards the power of social services and they’re terrified of them despite the good work we know they often do.

And too often these homeless children just can’t see that social services can help them and sadly they’ll do their utmost to not be found again.

And unbelievably just like the over 16′s many of these children have never been reported missing.

Take Care This Christmas

As we run full speed into one of the most emotionally difficult times of the year with hopes of family tranquility and expectations of family arguments before the turkey has even been carved please stop and consider that each and every one of us could be just one argument away from losing a child or teenager to the streets of our cities.

Please talk to your children.  Make them aware of the realities of living on the streets.  If you can, take them to your closest city on a freezing cold evening forget their hats and gloves and walk them around for an hour.  Sit with them on a bench or a wall for just 15 minutes.

And when they complain about being cold explain to them that woman or girl over there in the sleeping bag begging for money has been out in that cold all day and will be out in it all night because they don’t have a house.

Explain to them that no matter what they do that you will always love them and support them.  Tell them that everybody makes mistakes and you’ll forgive every one of theirs just like you did when they were toddlers.

Tonight, can I ask you to hug your child and tell them that you will always love them no matter who they are or what they do with their life.

Find out more about New Horizon Youth Centre

New Horizon are financially helped by The Railway Children

Read more on how to talk to your child about homelessness at Mumsnet

The Railway Children are supported by Aviva.  They’ll give the charity £2 every time you comment on one of the discussions on  Mumsnet (see above)


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Lou Treleaven, writer

Writing for children, submitting manuscripts, reviewing great books and other wordcentric activities

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