I created a survey is to gain insight into the type of person who volunteers at Siblings Reunited, their characteristics, ethics and values and their opinion on the recruitment and training processes. This type of information is useful to the organisation as it can assist management in the selection of staff, identify problems in the recruitment process and gaps in the induction and training programme.
As STAR Siblings Reunited is funded by the National Lottery Community Fund and management must periodically reapply for funding, the findings from this survey will show the calibre of staff the organisation has, the success of the recruitment and training programmes and the opinion of the staff on the benefits of STAR Sibling Reunited for the children who use the service. This can be used as evidence of the success of the service when they reapply for funding.
The research was conducted through survey format. This format was decided for several reasons. The Supervisors at STAR Siblings Reunited are volunteers and may have other commitments and a survey is quick and as a link was sent by email, the survey could be completed in their own time. Nineteen participants took part out of 22 volunteer staff, allowing me to build an accurate picture of the staff, the benefits of the service and any gaps in the service.
My research found Siblings Reunited is a revolutionary service, that highlights that there are better models of sibling contact available. The management team have innovatively used current research on the psychological damage sibling separation can cause, sought feedback from foster carers, adoptive parents, and care-experienced children, and applied their professional and personal experience of facilitating sibling visitations to create an environment and fills a gap that local authorities and universal services cannot.
The service has a successful recruitment process and enlists like-minded volunteers that have a wealth of educational and professional experience. The Supervisor volunteers are ethically minded, child-focused and volunteer their time at the service for philanthropic reasons. The service provides extensive training to their staff in both general practice and tailored to the needs of specific sibling groups. Most of the Supervisors are confident in Trauma-Informed Practice and Physical, Behavioural, and Emotional Conflict, and have the opportunity to show self-awareness, and practice self-reflection and reflective practice. As the findings did show that some of the supervisors do not know what these skills are or they may be called by another name by the service, it may show a gap in the training or the need for retraining, that the service may need to attend to.
The service offers many amenities to encourage the children to be free, have fun, and create familial bonds with their siblings without the weight of their situations or under the watchful eye of their carers, and the rural or outdoor environment helped the children social, cognitive and emotional skills, aids their mental health and well-being , builds their self-esteem and self-concept, and teaches interpersonal and communication skills, teamwork, co-operation, responsibility, outdoor safety skills and helps their attention span.
The children who use the service participate in a life changing journey. They get to maintain family ties, have an opportunity to form emotional bonds, and participate in a positive shared experience in a non-judgmental environment, with Supervisors who revel in their success and are proud of the contribution they make in the children’s lives.
STAR Siblings Reunited’s collaborative work with Stand Up For Siblings has influenced legislation, policy, and practice. It has advertised the need for changes in the way sibling separation and sibling visitations are viewed by universal services and successfully took part in the campaign that saw the Children’s (Scotland) Act 2020 and the Family Modernisation Strategy created. The new legislation places a duty on local authorities to support sibling contact for and the Children’s Hearings System and courts will also have a duty to consider sibling contact when making or changing compulsory supervision orders or dealing with family law disputes.