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Christine’s Life Story Work

Fairy house

One of our panel members in the Midlands region, Christine Harris, has provided a brief overview of her background and an article on life story work, which I am sure many of you will find incredibly insightful and beneficial. Thank you, Christine.

I became a Panel Member in the Midlands Region when it was set up and I really enjoy the role. I began my working life nursing, firstly on a paediatric ward and then transferred to the maternity/Special Care Baby Unit. It was on these wards I had my first contact with non-accidental injuries, child abuse, families in crisis and children with disabilities. I later moved to work for Local Authority Social Services in Early Years intervention and in those years, I worked with some of the most deprived and dysfunctional families in the area. This gave me experiences in court cases, fostering & adoption and child protection and has equipped me with knowledge and understanding to help me in my role on Panel. I took a career move and went to work as a Training & Development Adviser for the St John Ambulance and it was here, I gained my knowledge in Health & Safety, Fire Safety and First Aid, regularly training in those subjects. It was then back to the care sector to become a Regional Training Manager for a National Care Provider, following redundancy.

I was a nurse working in a special care baby unit when a tiny baby boy came to us having been delivered at 27 weeks gestation, something unheard of in the 80s. The little boy thrived and eventually went home. I then moved jobs to work for the Local Authority Social Services children’s services. I was a Nursery Officer for day nursery for vulnerable early years provision/child protection, one of the children registered was the baby I had nursed some 3 years before in special care. He was currently in foster care and was due to be adopted, the social worker approached me to help piece together something on his past and so with my creative skills, I compiled a memory scrapbook. At the time, life story work was just coming into being and so my love of making memory scrapbooks began.

There is no right or wrong way to produce such a book; it’s only your limited imagination and creativity that holds you back, allow your mind to create something precious for that person. Utilising what limited information we had in some cases, the staff along with their service users produced some lovely memory scrapbooks for reflection and reminiscing, capturing those precious moments for the future. They are a reminder to the person of who they are, a means of communication to all those around them, a way of restoring confidence and pride in themselves and a record of their life and their achievements.

The houses I make are often themed, I do also make ‘tooth fairy’ houses so children who are not keen on the thought of someone entering their room to find a tooth and put coins there can put the tooth in the pocket inside the door. Then the tooth can be exchanged for a coin safely.  I also have made play tables made out of cable reels, the last large one I made went to a house ready for a 4 yr old foster child.

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