The Bedsit Family

When I get home this evening for the Christmas break the first things I’m going to do are to pull the dinner table out to the centre of the room and get out the board games. We’re a gregarious bunch, the Ryan family, but even so there are times when everyone disappears off to their own rooms to work, or browse, or whatever.

It came home to me talking recently to our family mediation team (Amber) just how the modern home and family life has fragmented. The extended family became the nuclear family became the bedsit family. Families are not even arguing over what TV programme to watch because there are TV’s in every room. Houses are being built without dining rooms. Members of the household can spend all week under the same roof with little or no interaction.

Cyrenians’ Amber supports teenagers who are at risk of homelessness through family breakdown. If appropriate we shuttle between the young person and parent to negotiate using a mediation process to try to resolve the difficulties that are putting the home, schooling and future relationships at risk. It’s a great service delivered by brilliant, caring people. Have a look at the website and watch the video testimony. As a parent of four young people – three still in the bosom of the family – it brings it home that none of us as immune to these problems. What I hear over and again is that the love is there but families have simply lost the habit of communicating with each other.  Amber breaks through the wall and brings parents and adult/child back together, with every one of the 100 or so cases last year resolved in a good way.xmasdinner_2431212b

On Tuesday past I was at the Scottish Parliament building for the launch of The Homeless Monitor: Scotland report, commissioned by Crisis and with research led by Professor Suzanne Fitzpatrick from Heriot Watt. I will blog more about this in the New Year but one thing that struck me was this: There is a presumption in the British welfare system that young people have families and that their families are able and willing to support them. Welfare ‘Reforms’ throw even more responsibility – or pressure – on families to support children who have become unemployed or under-employed young adults. The strength and resilence of families to hold together under financial pressure will be tested in 2013 in a way that has not been the case since the introduction of the Welfare State.

With that thought, turn off the tellies, switch off the broadband and use this Christmas to commune with those you love. But before you do, have a wee look at Cyrenians Farm Christmas Message  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=43aPmD5RlEM

Have a great Christmas everyone, and thanks for all your interest and support in 2012 xxx

Des Ryan (CEO)

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