The COVID-19 pandemic has meant that one critical project which brings siblings together, has had to close.
STAR, Siblings Reunited, has had to temporarily close its doors during lockdown.
Although restrictions are easing, the Fife-based charity is still waiting to fully reopen.
STAR brings brothers and sisters together for two hours once a month for some much needed quality time together.
Karen Morrison who runs the project said: “Lockdown has been tough. We had to completely close. We did look at providing some kind of online service, but what makes STAR so special and successful, is that we offer a unique experience for children and young people.”
STAR has everything from a woodland, to a beach and garden area. There’s also the STAR wigwam, an outdoor kitchen (and a mud kitchen!) as well as the Fairy Garden and Hobbit House.
The project also has a host of furry friends, which the children and young people love to pet, including horses, rabbits, guinea pigs and Murphy the Ram (who is a popular choice for selfies!)
Karen and her family have been kept busy keeping the facilities maintained during the pandemic. Tuesday is normally their maintenance day, where up to 40 volunteers descend on the site to help keep clean, plant, set up new projects etc. In addition, the Department of Work and Pensions also regularly provides up to 20 helpers on a Tuesday which is the day they don’t have any children or young people on site.
Karen said: “To go from all this amazing help every week, to just the family, was a real challenge. All the family had to muck in and help out to keep everything ticking over. Somehow we managed and the site looks great. We can’t wait to welcome everyone back again.”
Karen had hoped the project would be fully up and running now, but the new restrictions on two households makes this difficult, as there can be siblings from multiple placements, as well as the STAR supervisors who are always on hand.
She added: “We know children and young people are missing vital contact with their brothers and sisters during this time. They might arrive here anxious or worried, but then they seem to leave these worries at the car park and enjoy spending time with their siblings and trying out all the different activities. The animals in particular have a calming and therapeutic effect.”
Hallowe’en and Christmas are two of STAR’s busiest times, so Karen is hoping things will be back to normal by then, but she added: “We are still here and we are desperate to get back to normal, but we want everyone to be safe.”
To find out more about STAR visit their website.
STAR receives 50 per cent of its funding from The Big Lottery. The remainder is sourced through fundraising activities, however, Coronavirus has had a significant impact on this. You can make a donation to the charity via their website.