Memories, both happy and sad, shape who we are and help us to understand ourselves and those around us. They enable us to make sense of our world so that we can move on to a positive future. Children brought up in their birth families are surrounded by memories and immersed in their history. Their sense of themselves and their identity evolves naturally over time.
For children separated from their birth families especially those who experienced multiple placements, their memories are so easily lost and consequently their understanding of their past and the events leading to them becoming looked after becomes very fragmented and confused. By using memory boxes and compiling memory books we can help children make some sense of their early life events and this seems the best way of helping children to preserve those important memories.
Foster carers have a particularly important role to play in life work and in gathering memories. They must ‘encourage the child to reflect on and understand her/his history, according to the child’s age and ability, and to keep appropriate memorabilia’ and they should ‘record significant life events for the child, and encourage the child to make such recordings, including photograph albums’. (National Minimum Standards for Fostering)