Paperchase removes card after outrage over orphan joke

Paperchase has taken a card off sale after customers complained about a joke which suggested returning a child to an orphanage.

The card shows a mum on the phone next to a child who has spilt some milk saying: ‘Is this the orphanage? Right, I want a f*****g refund.’ 

MBE-winning poet Lemn Sissay, who has written about growing up in the care system, was among those calling out the stationary shop. 

‘This card isn’t meant for children in care or adults who have been in care. It’s meant for others to pour scorn on them,’ he wrote on his blog. 

‘This card is punching down, abusing children in care … 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.’

Paperchase announced it had taken the card off its website and instructed stores to remove it from displays on Wednesday. 

Online attention was brought to the card earlier this week when Sophia Alexandra Hall, who has publicly written about her journey from foster care to Oxford University, tweeted about it. 

She said: ‘Me: minding my business in a shop looking for Christmas cards. Shop: Merry Christmas here’s an orphan joke.

‘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.’

‘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.’

Mr Sissay followed up on his original post calling the card out and wrote: ‘It was important to write this blog to thank Sophia and Paperchase and all the people who wrote to them about The Card because our thanks should be as loud as our protest.

‘I will cherish this response from Paperchase as the best Christmas message this year. Merry Christmas everyone.’

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