A TV advertisement, launched by the Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE) Support Hub and broadcast to the nation for the first time tonight, spotlights the harsh reality of young people facing adversity at home.
The ACE Support Hub is funded by the Welsh Government to prevent and mitigate ACEs by raising awareness and transforming systems to promote change. The advert has been launched today as part of their ‘Time to be Kind’ campaign in response to the growing concerns for young people facing adversity at home.
The main subject of the advert, a young boy, is shown discussing a school project on a video call with peers. The young boy becomes noticeably distressed at the sound of aggressive arguing in the background, so much so, that the other children check he is okay; and one of their fathers who overhears offers to check in with the young boy’s parent.
The message behind the advert, and the wider ‘Time to be Kind’ campaign, is that one small act of kindness can go a long way in offering support, and potentially a way out.
Recent research led by the Children’s Commissioner for Wales’, that explores the perspectives of nearly 20,000 young people during the pandemic, confirms that fears are a reality, with 22% of young people aged 12 to 18 admitting to feeling sad ‘most of the time’. Many children also reported struggling with their mental health and changes at home.
In a heart-breaking plea, one young person aged 10, said: “I have to say I’m fine because all my friends are listening on Teams, but I just want someone to listen. My dad shouts all the time because he lost his job. I know my mum isn’t eating properly because she gives me her portion.
“My dad doesn’t notice because he’s too cross. But I notice it. I am being brave and doing all my schoolwork so I hope my teacher will speak to me. But she never talks to me. I am lonely but nobody cares about me except my mum. I love my mum and sister, but my dad upsets me so much that I could cry.”
The survey also asked young people what is making them feel unsafe. While the most commonly reported answer was focused around loved ones contracting COVID-19, 173 young people stated that they do not feel safe at home.
The ‘Time to be Kind’ campaign aims to break the cycle of ACEs by taking small steps to making Wales a kinder place to be.
Over the next four weeks, the campaign is calling on people across Wales to share kind messages on social media using #TimeToBeKind. These messages will be housed online in the Hub’s ‘Smile Cinema’. The hope is that the campaign will spread across Wales, helping to make us a kinder nation.
Professor Mark Bellis, Director of Policy and International Health, WHO Collaborating Centre on Investment for Health & Well-being, and world leading expert on ACEs explained, “For many young people, the prospect of being locked in an unhappy home is a very scary and dangerous reality, and many will have had that experience enhanced during the pandemic.
“The lack of access to school friends, teachers, social workers and the safe space and services that schools provide may have meant that children have been unable to disclose issues or access support.
“While the full extent of this is not yet fully known, we do know that the intervention of kindness and relationships can help considerably. They are some of the most powerful forms of human therapy.”
Director of the ACEs Support Hub, Joanne Hopkins, said, “As we emerge from the pandemic, we must take time to understand that many children, young people and adults have been, and are still, experiencing adversity behind closed doors.
“While some people may have protective factors in place to support them, such as trusted adults or community connections, these may be harder to access, and others may not have them at all. How people cope with what they are experiencing will differ and there may not be any obvious signs that someone might need help.
This is why we’re urging people to stay connected or reconnect with others; send a simple text or pick up the phone. If a family is struggling, knowing that someone is there for them could quite simply change their life – and you will be playing a part in breaking the cycle of ACEs across Wales.”
The ACE Support Hub are asking the nation to get involved by sharing kindness stories on social media using #TimeToBeKind or by submitting them in their ‘Smile Cinema’ online at www.aceawarewales.com/timetobekind. For more information about ACEs or to get support, visit their website.