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As part of my independent Family Review – a Review into contemporary family life commissioned by Government – I visited Ark Boulton Academy. I wanted to hear from looked after children and children in temporary housing their thoughts on what is good about family, what issues there might be and how they think Government should be working with families.

On this visit children told me:

The word family makes me think of respect, excitement and caring’ – Boy.

When I think of family the first thing that comes to mind is unusuality – honesty, respect, comfort and unity’ – Boy.

On this visit I also recorded a podcast:

In Part 1 of the podcast, the group talk about the importance of a supportive environment, of being asked questions and being involved in family discussions, and trust as an integral part of the family unit. As one child said:

‘One word that comes to mind for me is trustful, because to call someone family you need to be more trusting to them than you are with a friend‘  – Girl.

They share that they feel family want the best for you and that you can call a greater network of people family even if you aren’t related because you can rely on them. As children told me:

Family is about the people you are close to, the people you care about, it’s not just decided by biology’ – Girl.

‘It could be anybody you have a close bond with or relationship with’ – Boy.

They discuss how family is looked upon in society and whether families get enough support, the ingredients of an ideal family. They told me:

‘…the main objective is just love for your family and siblings’ – Boy.

‘…I would always want support from someone, somewhere, and I feel like in the future I really hope that families as a society we can be a bit more supportive, and we’re only children, we need some time’ – Boy.

In Part 2 of the podcast the group share messages they want the Government to hear and take into account when working with and making decisions on families behalf. Discussing housing, safeguarding, having their rights upheld, being welcomed and supported including financially, and having events and activities for families to attend in the community.

In Part 3 I share a powerful quote from one of the children about their struggles which starts ‘I think of happiness when I think of family, I wish I could live a normal life with my family.’ They go on to discuss the unacceptable issues they are having but I wanted to share the start here – they just want to live a normal life – something that every child is entitled to. Following this I talk to the Headteacher of Ark Boulton Academy at the time of recording, Herminder Channa, about the importance of family and support from society to help ensure the family unit is secure for the students from Ark Boulton and for children across England. She told me:

‘For our young people the ask is simple…how the adults can step up and provide that simplicity for them’ – Herminder Channa.

Tomorrow I am publishing Part 2 of my Family Review which shares new insights into the positive impact of a strong family on a child’s life and recommendations for services that are available to them.