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Dealing with parental divorce: York law student produces booklet

Posted on 2 March 2015

A University of York Law School undergraduate has produced a booklet to help young people whose parents are separating, providing support to thousands across the UK.

Emily Morris

Unable to find helpful information and support when her parents were going through a divorce, second year student Emily Morris produced a booklet, It’s Not The End: Divorce Support For Young People, aimed at young people from the age of 14.

Supported by charity Fixers and the Youth Social Action Fund (YSAF), the booklet is designed for young people to gain a better understanding of the divorce process. Including personal stories from other young people who have been affected, it explains the potential reasons for separation and provides information relating to legal rights and advice on coping mechanisms.

Distributed in schools, libraries, and by the NHS in Doncaster, the booklet is also available online. Supported by the counselling charity Relate, Emily has appeared on ITV News Central to promote her work.

Emily, aged 21 and from Birmingham, said: “I’m passionate about this issue because my parents separated in 2012, and their divorce was finalised in 2014. At the time, I would have found it really useful just to have some information about what would happen and how to cope with it. There was nothing at all and I had little support at school.

“With this booklet, I hope to help other young people whose parents are separating, to show them they’re not alone whilst also encouraging adults to pay close attention to how a young person is coping. It can be a traumatic time for teenagers as they often already have a lot going on, and it’s common to feel isolated. I hope the booklet helps young adults understand the process, and helps schools to realise the effects of divorce so they can make sure those affected have someone to talk to.

“There is a lot of press coverage and studies describing the negative impacts of divorce on children, but more needs to be done to limit these effects. Overall, my message is that there is support for those going through this. I feel like the booklet will have a positive impact if the issue of divorce is talked about more.”

Nicky Owen, Young People’s Counsellor at Relate, said: “The booklet is excellent. It’s from a young person’s point of view and I think that will be a real help to others who are going through a similar process. We see lots of young people whose parents have been or are going through a separation and they talk about the huge impact it has on them.”

Emily hopes to share her booklet with as many schools, libraries, social workers and GPs as possible.  Next year, she is planning to embark on a study year abroad in Hong Kong, before graduating and hopefully setting up her own charity.

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