(L-R Aberlour Vice Chair David Elder, Aberlour CEO Sally-Ann Kelly and Mark McDonald MSP)
A unique film premiere has marked the launch of three residential houses for vulnerable children in the Highlands.
Leading children’s charity Aberlour were joined by partners from The Highland Council and the Scottish Government at the red-carpet event at The Ironworks in Inverness on Monday. (sept 11)
Speakers included The Highland Council’s Director of Care and Learning Bill Alexander; the Minister for Early Years and Childcare Mark McDonald MSP, and Aberlour CEO SallyAnn Kelly.
Around 100 guests gathered to watch the film made by BAFTA-winning director Garry Fraser. It follows a group of children as they move into their new homes with Aberlour in Inverness, Fort William and Tain.
Throughout, they reflect on what it means to be ‘in care’ with one 15-year-old saying: “Being in care is like a home away from home and you’re here because you can’t be in your home, for whatever reason that may be.
“It’s not like Tracy Beaker, it’s not always a walk in the park, but most days are good days.”
(Audience gather to watch the film)
The stars of the film were there to meet guests at the premiere, serving popcorn, sweets and drinks before show-time.
The film was shot by BAFTA-winning director Garry Fraser, who was in care from 8-16, including a period being looked-after by Aberlour. Now an established filmmaker, his credits include Trainspotting 2.
SallyAnn Kelly said: “We are so proud of our children and young people, for the way they have so eloquently expressed their feelings about being in care. The film really showcases what we know already – that all our young people are unique with different hopes and dreams for the future. We are honoured to be by their side, to help them grow into adulthood.
“At Aberlour, we provide residential services for children and see it as a positive destination for many. We truly believe that every child deserves the chance to flourish, and having a safe and loving home is key to that.”
The children’s houses, opened in partnership with The Highland Council, are an extension of Aberlour’s Sycamore service which already manages five houses in Fife. The children have often experienced trauma, which could include witnessing domestic violence or drug and alcohol use in the home.
The children cared for by Aberlour in the Highlands all come from the region but are not able to live with their families. This may be for a short, planned period while a family gets support so that their children can return. Others will live with Aberlour until they are adults.
(Director of Care and Learning Bill Alexander)
Director of Care and Learning Bill Alexander said: “I am delighted to welcome these new services to the Highlands. Our looked after children should be supported by the highest quality of care, and I am confident that they will experience this from Aberlour. Indeed, we have already seen the positive impact that Aberlour can have for our young people, and the launch event and film were a tremendous example of this.”
Aberlour hopes to submit the children’s film, as part of its contribution to the Independent Care Review, announced by the Scottish Government last year.
Minister for Childcare and Early Years Mark McDonald said: “The Scottish Government is committed to transforming the lives of children and young people growing up in care in Scotland today and in the future. The Independent Care Review seeks to deliver that, by identifying the changes we need to make as well as recognising where great work is already taking place.
“Aberlour has a very long history of looking after children and I have been inspired by the young people I have met this evening, as well as those who have spoken so powerfully in the film. It reinforces our need to be guided by our care-experienced children, families and care-leavers, to bring about real, lasting change.”
The charity has also launched Sustain, a support service in Ross-shire helping families with children on the “edge of care.” Trained staff will work to help and support families under pressure in an attempt to keep parents and their children together.
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