A CARD shop has been forced to remove a “sick” Christmas card after being accused of mocking children who were raised in care.
Paperchase were slammed by poet and author Lemn Sissay MBE and others who were raised in care for selling the card which appears to make fun of orphans.
The card features a young rabbit knocking over a mug of liquid, resulting in the mother rabbit picking up a phone, saying “Is this the Orphanage? Right, I want a f****** refund.”
Customer Sophia Alexandra Hall, 23, came across the card on Tuesday while she was looking around for Christmas cards in the store.
Hall, who was raised in care herself, was appalled by the card and shared it on Twitter, writing: ” Me: minding my business in a shop looking for Christmas cards.
“Shop: Merry Christmas here’s an orphan joke.”
Last night Paperchase apologised and said that after listening to customer feedback they have decided to remove the card from sale.
The post has attracted hundreds of comments from furious social media users – including many care-experienced people.
Lemn Sissay MBE, who was brought up in care, wrote in a blog saying: “This card is punching down, abusing children in care as disposal goods for the butt of a joke.
“The difference between other ‘edgy card jokes’ is that this one is laughing at a vulnerable foster child.
“To Customer Services. Please remove these from sale. You are better than this. You spread a lot of happiness. But this. This is the opposite of what you are about. This is beneath you.”
@DavetheCareBear wrote under the post: “·This card was found by my friend in Paperchase today, poking fun at orphans and care experienced people.
“Do you truly believe this is ok Paperchase? Absolutely disgusting thing to sell. we are more than the butt of a joke.”
@Rosie_Canning said: “It’s horrid. Definitely a trigger for care exp people – for many. It’s the truth of being returned to children’s homes after yet another ‘placement breakdown’ or the threat of that. The swearing adds another dimension of something quite brutal.”
@HoyleTime wrote: “Let’s not make jokes about horrific childhood experiences.”
@RuhiHamid said: “Terribly tasteless jokes but definitely very hurtful. Well done to Paperchase for taking immediate action. Stamp out any form of discrimination and hurtful language.”
Speaking today Sophia said: “…My brain immediately went – ‘okay, maybe you’re reading too much into it.
“’Maybe this is actually a funny card and you’re too close to it as it talks about the idea of sending non-biological children ‘back’, like they’re commodities’.
“As someone who went through quite a few different placements during foster care, it genuinely can feel like that as a child; that if your carers don’t like you, they are sending you back and then I noticed the reason the character has deemed this child so bad that they must be sent back, is because the child spilt milk on the floor.
“There’s no use crying over spilt milk, I think is the phrase, and this is an incredible overreaction.
“Children aren’t meant to be perfect, and if there’s a joke in there somewhere that this card is meant to poke fun at that viewpoint, I don’t understand why they’ve depicted such an innocent crime.
“I took it home and showed the picture to my flat-mates (neither of them are care experienced) and both of them looked at it and just said ‘Wait…I don’t get it?’ ‘How is this a Christmas card?’
“To have both of them say – ‘wait, no, Sophia this card is really disrespectful’, made me realise I wasn’t too close to the subject, it was just a genuinely bad decision from Paperchase to stock this item.
Sophia added: “Weirdly – when it comes to how I feel – I wasn’t upset when I saw it.
“I just had this overwhelming numbness because I wasn’t surprised, which is a weird thing to say – but yeah, I wasn’t surprised that I’d found a card like this which poked fun at my community in a mainstream store – and I think that’s the issue that needs to be addressed.”
A spokesperson for Paperchase said: “We have listened to your feedback and pulled this from the website and all stores have been instructed to remove it from display.
“We apologise unreservedly; it’s never our intention to cause offence and appreciate on this occasion the image and copy has done so.”
A spokeswoman for Paperchase today said: “We don’t always get it right and on the rare occasions that we don’t, we appreciate our customers calling it out so that we can respond and react accordingly.
“We were first made aware of a customer concern about this card yesterday morning and immediately removed it from sale on our website and all stores.
“We try and provide a wide range of cards, catering to all types of customers with varying senses of humour.
“Whilst it is never our intention to be insensitive or cause any offence, we appreciate that on this occasion the image and copy has done so, for which we apologise unreservedly.”
Last year, Sophia spoke with The Guardian about her experience in care explaining she was put in at the age of 16 after family breakdown.
This led to her drinking, thinking of running away and self-harming. However, she said with ambition and hard work she was able to secure a place at the University of Oxford.