What does Making it Real have to say about Valentine’s Day?

Kate Sibthorp, National Co-production Advisory Group
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Making it Real

Does anyone love Valentine’s Day? Apart from the shops selling cards, flowers, chocolates and romantic dinners? For the cynics, it’s another day that’s become over-commercialised, generating healthy profits for the retail sector. For others, it’s an opportunity to tell someone special how much they love them. For many though, it’s a day that reminds them just how lonely they are. So what does Making it Real have to say about Valentine’s Day?

‘There’s no romance or sex in Making it Real,’ said a friend recently. Although he’s a big fan of Making it Real, he thought it falls short when it comes to those very personal relationships. I agree it’s not immediately obvious – there are no I or We statements that mention boyfriends, girlfriends, sexual relationships or even gender or sexual orientation. 

However, it’s all there if you look more closely and use the I and We statements to trigger conversations that discover what people are thinking and feeling about romantic or sexual relationships. Take, for example:

I am supported by people who listen carefully so they know what matters to me and how to support me to live the life I want.

The beauty and flexibility of Making it Real is that, while it’s all about personalisation, the statements have to be applied in a personalised way. Some organisations might be tempted to interpret this statement as relating only to practical support with daily living tasks; however, it can also open up conversations about the big things that matter to people – including relationships… it’s whatever matters to the person! All we have to do is start talking and listening.

Another apposite statement from Making it Real is:

We don’t make assumptions about what people can or cannot do and don’t limit or restrict people’s options.

Some of our services get in the way of love, romance and sex. I’ve read of elderly couples being sent to separate care homes, for example. And if that’s what happens to heterosexual couples, what’s the situation for gay and lesbian people? And to boot people with learning disabilities often have their lives managed so closely that they have no chance of romance.

A third statement:

I can get information and advice that helps me think about and plan my life.

According to Mencap, ‘People who receive effective sex and relationships education usually have better sexual knowledge, better sexual health, and reduced vulnerability to sexual abuse.’ And I’m sure they’re a lot happier, too!

A final thought… St Valentine was the patron saint of love and affection. While 14th February is traditionally about romance, maybe we could emphasize the affection a bit more in 2019 and consider those who don’t have a special someone and might be feeling a bit lonely. So, in the spirit of Making it Real, let’s think about what really matters to someone we care for and do something that’s warm, friendly and caring on Valentine’s Day.


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