How often are children in care invited to speak to local and state officials to discuss their concerns?
Care in Action brought the Erasmus Time 4 Tea project to Ukraine to help give marginalised children in care a voice within wider society. The Time 4 Tea idea originated 50 years ago; peace activist Satish Kumar started delivering tea packets, along with a message, to world leaders. Since then, its developed and spread across the globe as a way for young people to share concerns about society with leaders.
After receiving training on how to run the project in England, Care in Action staff facilitated a meeting between Ukrainian children in care and L’viv city officials - all around a cup of tea. Watch a short video to see how it happened.
“Perhaps for the first time ever,” noted Youth Worker, Yaryna Ponizhay, “I witnessed how adults, all very influential people in L’viv, were listening to the children.”
Young people from care homes were excited to participate in Time 4 Tea and brainstormed the topics and issues they most wanted to communicate.
Their biggest concern was the isolation of children living in care homes or foster families from the rest of society.
Bogdan Pavlyshyn, a teenager in care, said: “We’ve selected this topic because all of us have experienced it in our daily lives. We are aware that all events such as educational olympics, concerts, and other competitions for children are organised separately for children from care and foster homes, and other kids.
“We’ve also experienced how other children start to treat us differently as soon as they found out that we are from care homes.”
Children in care homes don’t have opportunities to interact and communicate with kids from family homes. This leads to growing up very isolated from the rest of society, and when teenagers in care venture out of institutions on their own, the isolation stays with them. They struggle to integrate and find their place.
After identifying the main message to present to local government representatives, we thought about how to convey it creatively.
“We presented this using a 3D model where children playing outside their family home are separated by a tall wall from children playing outside a care home,” explained Mariana Kostiv, a teenager in institutional care.
Government officials, NGOs, and social services professionals shared a cup of tea with teens from care homes and listened to their stories and concerns about growing up isolated from other kids.
After discussing the issue with the officials invited, they came to a joint conclusion to raise awareness of the topic within administration of local schools.
A further action point was the decision to invite children from both care homes and general schools to Care in Action’s annual Talents in Action festival to help break down social barriers and promote integration.
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