The Long Tailed Tit with No Tail...

group of long tailed tits feeding, though one has lost their tail

Some of my favourite visitors to our garden are the Long-tailed Tits. To me they are like little flying, fluffy chattering lollipops! Last month, one of them lost its tail, and I found myself asking – how can a Long-tailed Tit know it’s a Long-tailed Tit if it doesn’t have a long tail? Apparently quite easily – for the little one in my garden, who chattered and flew with the rest of its family not seemingly questioning its sense of belonging despite its missing defining feature!

As March begins, the little bird’s tail has grown back, and I’m now not sure if I could tell it apart. This got me thinking about care-experienced children who, having moved homes, families and communities, often find that belonging can be a pretty complicated feeling.

Routines, clothes, diets, religion, political views, even attitudes to parenting and technology, all vary from family to family. At Growing Me, we see that these ‘cultural differences’ can vary hugely even within a broader culture of British-ness, for example, and are an often overlooked , but significant, challenge. For these children, adapting their understanding of the world is essential as they try and find a sense of love and acceptance among people who they may not look like.

A sense of belonging is crucial for human beings, and we are more likely to thrive when we feel safe and have status in our social group. To support and develop a sense of belonging for care-experienced children, Growing Me celebrates their unique position that spans cultural and familial backgrounds, whilst helping them find and express what helps them know they belong where they are, in this place, at this time.

As I witnessed in my garden this winter, tails come and go, whilst for care-experienced children it is whole value systems and cultural differences. At a time when the media is polarising our differences against each other, perhaps we can learn something valuable from these amazing children on their journeys of belonging within different families, homes, and cultures.

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