Home for Good’s Rosie Killick explains the things she loves about the new John Lewis Christmas advert - the tale of a couple preparing to foster a teenage girl.
The Christmas season has officially begun; the John Lewis Christmas ad is here. And we love it. John Lewis’ Christmas marketing doesn’t just sell us a product; every year, they tell us a story. And here at Home for Good, we’ve found that more often than not, the stories they tell us connect to the things we care most about: family, belonging, community, love.
In 2012 we followed a snowman on a journey, seeing on our screens the efforts that some will go to for those they love. In 2015, we met a man on the moon and a little girl on earth who wanted him to know she saw him, and that he wasn’t alone. And of course, we can’t forget the Home for Good favourite – you can read about our beloved Excitable Edgar here.
This year’s ad is different. It doesn’t just dance around themes that feed our vision at Home for Good; it absolutely hits the nail on the head. If you haven’t yet seen the advert, take 90 seconds to watch it here. The film introduces us to two foster carers who are preparing to welcome a girl into their home. John Lewis highlights at the end of the ad the commitment they’ve made as a business to support children and young people with care experience through their Happier Futures partnership.
We are delighted that John Lewis have taken this opportunity to share the stories and experiences of children in care and of foster carers with such a huge and engaged audience. We’re so pleased to see the steps they’re taking to support young people leaving care into employment and raise awareness of injustice and inequality. And we really love the story they’ve told us through this Christmas advert. Here are a few reasons why we love it so much:
We’re introduced to an older child
Often when children in care are spoken about, minds jump quickly to babies and young children. Yet over the last decade, we’ve seen an increase in the number of children aged between ten and 17 entering care; this age group now make up the majority of children in care. We also know that older children are more likely to experience multiple moves within a year than younger children in care.
Every child and young person matters. Every child and young person has worth and value and deserves to live and grow in a stable environment, where they’ll be loved, cared for and supported. We love that John Lewis has taken this opportunity to give representation to and to raise awareness of the experiences of older children in care.
Ellie is seen, known and celebrated
Every child and young person is unique. They’ll carry different stories, talent, interests and ideas. We love that in this film, the girl’s interests are communicated, understood and celebrated; the foster family go to great lengths to find ways to affirm this part of her identity, and to share the things that bring her happiness. Seemingly small steps can go such a long way in enabling children and teenagers to feel supported to explore and be who they are.
We love that towards the end of the advert, this girl is greeted at the door by someone who knows her name. “Hey, Ellie.” Ellie’s not a number or a statistic; John Lewis make it very clear that she’s her own person.
We see the preparations – and the sacrifice
The advert gives us an insight into the preparations that go before welcoming a child or young person into your home. While we see the male character commit to working on his skateboarding skills, we see the woman in the story take phone calls, complete paperwork, wrap gifts. We don’t know that all these are related to fostering, but it paints a picture of the range of things that happen in the lead up to opening your home.
Not every fostering experience will be like this one; many foster families won’t find themselves with a lot of time before a child and social worker arrive at the door. Some might get a phone call in the middle of the night while others will have just a few hours to make up the bedroom. But whatever the timescale, there are moments of preparation and getting ready.
Perhaps one of my favourite things about the John Lewis Christmas ad is that it meddles with power dynamics – in a truly wonderful way. Too often, children with care experience are depicted as vulnerable, lost or broken which can feed stigma and writing rescue narratives. In this film, we see the weaknesses and vulnerabilities of the carer, not the child. We learn that he’s not a super-hero, and he’s not got it all together, but that he’s a normal, kind of clumsy guy. When Ellie arrives, she looks nervous – which is understandable – but so do her carers.
Our hope and prayer is that right across the UK, people will watch the advert and stop, think and ask that question. Home for Good exists to see homes found for children and young people who are waiting; homes where they will be known, understood, encouraged and celebrated, just like in the ad.
We want to see thousands of individuals and families inspired to explore fostering and we believe the church has a crucial part to play. At Home for Good, we partner with churches across the UK and journey with individuals, couples and families, in pursuit of that vision.
If you find yourself asking that question – how can I help? – we at Home for Good would love to support you to take your next step. Visit our connect page, where you can make contact with our team who can chat to you about fostering, adoption and supported lodgings, or sign up to our mailing list for more stories, news and information about children and young people in care.