Here we go again. Another advert showing a perfect family having a perfect Christmas. All of the children are happy, they have the perfect parents who bought everything on their lists and there’s loads of food and treats. Everyone’s happy and it’s been the best Christmas ever. For thousands of families they have the perfect Christmas but there is some of us out there where this isn’t the case.

Christmas is lonely, scary and just not ‘perfect’. In every Christmas advert we are shown what we are missing and what we really want.

I’ve cried at plenty of Christmas ads but not because of the story or message told but because I think of 10 year old Bella who would have done anything and everything to have the perfect Christmas with the perfect family. Instead, little Bella was in a care home by herself with no family to go to. All of the other young people have gone to have Christmas with their families but little Bella hasn’t got one to go to. So instead she’s sat in a care home with a staff member who’s drawn the short straw and been given the Christmas shift. They have to spend their day working with Bella instead of being at home with their family. They are willing for the shift to be over so they can go home to their family and sit with a glass of bubbly.

Christmas isn’t perfect for a lot of people but we still have the same ads with the same perfect family and cliché message. Until this year!

John Lewis pulled the curtain down and showed that Christmas isn’t perfect for everyone. Watching their ad for the first time I wasn’t expecting to cry as much as I did. I wasn’t expecting to see a care experience story that spoke to me as much as it did. This is the first advert I’ve seen that shows a care experience and talks about how many children live in the care system. 

Although there are thousands of children who live in the care system this is something that is hidden from society and mainstream media. Out of sight, out of mind.

But John Lewis opened the door and shed light on the thing society wants to keep hidden.

This is the first time I’ve seen such a huge company use their platform to talk about the 108,000 children who live in the system hidden from society and everyday life. 

There’s thousands of children who like me watch all the other ads wishing that perfect family was theirs and that they are having the perfect Christmas. But I hope that those children see the John Lewis Christmas ad and see that being in care isn’t something they need to hide. 

Thank you John Lewis for talking about those 108,000 children. Not even just the children but the hundreds of carers and workers too.

That was just the story of one child and one set of foster carers but there’s hundreds out there who will do everything in their power to ensure a child has a safe and loving home. A foster carer doesn’t get Christmas off, they ensure the child in their care has the best Christmas they can. They learn to skateboard to help the child fit in and make them feel at ease when a child comes into their home. 

I hope that other companies take a look at the ad and think about how they could use their platforms to talk about the 108,000 children living in a system doomed to fail. The care system is better than it use to be but there’s still a long, long way to go before it’s perfect. There’s so many amazing caring people like the carers in the ad who do anything and everything they can to make a child feel safe and like they belong. But they aren’t being given the training, support or funding they need to make a real difference to the children they care for.

There’s 108,000 children and only 1 advert that talks about these children. We need to do better.

For a lot of children living in the care system Christmas can feel like an after thought. There’s so many other things that take priority over Christmas but I do hope that the advert will help people who are in positions of power to see that Christmas is as important as other issues. Children who live in the care system deserve to have the same (if not more) excitement and magic that children who don’t live in the system have. They deserve to enjoy Christmas and look back at it and have good positive memories.

Thankfully Christmas is very different for me. My wee brother and husband are both also care experienced so as a family we know how rubbish Christmas can be. We also have my wee boy, who will be 3 this Christmas. We all want to ensure that he has the best Christmas we can possibly give him and give him positive memories of Christmas. Christmas for me does now feel perfect and I really do think I have the most perfect family to share it with. 

Finally I would to finish with a message to all of the children who will be living in the care system for Christmas this year. You are not alone, I promise you this. I’ve been where you are. Please, please don’t compare yourself to the people in those adverts because they just aren’t real. You don’t need to have a perfect family to have a good Christmas, you are all the perfect you need. This Christmas is probably very different to how you imagined it to be and unfortunately no amount of words I write is going to change that for you but please know you are loved and thought of fondly. Santa is a very clever man and he will know where you are so he will still deliver your presents for you. And my promise to you is that I will use my voice to get the adults to do better because you truly do deserve to have an amazing Christmas and you deserve the best. Please also know you are not alone and you are so very loved. 

Merry Christmas sweetheart, I really do hope that you have a good Christmas. Lots of love from Bella, a girl who’s lived in the system you are living in and who is always thinking of you not just at Christmas but every day of every year. X