What we do
The Children's Society (The Church of England Children's Society) is a children’s charity committed to making childhood better for all children in the UK.
The charity operates a national network of centres and projects that deliver specialist services for children who face danger or disadvantage in their daily lives; children who are unable to find the support they need anywhere else.
The charity’s schools work, children’s centres and mentoring programmes help children develop the skills and confidence they need to make the most of their childhood and play a full part in their local communities, while its research and campaigning aims to influence the thinking of everyone - from the general public to politicians and decision makers - creating real change and making childhood better for all children.
In its 2006/07 Annual Report The Children's Society stated that despite a fall in Government funding nearly 80p in the pound of its income went to direct work with children and young people.
Devised by The Children's Society, the Hundreds and Thousands of Childhood Memories campaign is part of a movement to engage the nation and enlist their help in making childhood better. Collecting cherished early memories from the British public will help to build a picture of what a good childhood should look like and contribute towards The Good Childhood Inquiry – the UK’s first independent inquiry into what makes a good childhood.
Sophie Ellis-Bextor, who is fronting the campaign says: “I'm delighted to support The Children's Society's campaign to make childhood better for all children in the UK today. As a mum, I want my children to have some fantastic memories. Being covered in hundreds and thousands is much more fun than I imagined but the serious message is we really need hundreds and thousands of childhood memories - please share yours."
The Children’s Society was founded in 1881, when London Sunday school teacher Edward Rudolf found two of his pupils begging for food on the streets. He subsequently established the Church of England Central Home for Waifs and Strays, a home that offered vulnerable children a smaller, more caring alternative to the large workhouses and orphanages common at that time.
The nature of the work of the charity has changed; it no longer runs children’s homes and is now based around project work, research and campaigning.
The charity remains partnered with the Church of England, with the Archbishops of Canterbury and York acting as presidents and the majority of the Diocesan and some Suffragan Bishops Vice-Presidents. It also produces a number of child-centred church service resources, such as Chrstingle, Leaves of Life and Halloween Choice.
In the late 1960s and the early 1970s, in response to the significant social changes of these years, the Society moved away from its traditional centralised care, and its fostering and adoption work. The aim now was to develop preventive work designed to support children and young people within their own families and communities. During the 1970s and 1980s the Society introduced many family centres throughout the country. These offered a wider range of services, including advice centres, play groups, youth clubs and short term accommodation for single young mothers.
During the 1990s the Society moved into a new era of working for social justice. This work built upon the experience and understanding gained in the previous twenty years' work on the ground. Understanding the issues faced by young people enabled The Children's Society to respond to the needs of children and young people more effectively through new projects, lobbying to change legislation and welfare provision, and allowing young people to speak and act for themselves so they can shape their own lives.
The Children's Society street work programme in the late 1990s is an example of how practical experience fed into broader campaigning. The Children's Society's safe-house programme gave it wide experience of young people on the streets. This culminated in a major study in 1999, which called for a nationwide network of safe houses to be set up, and for statutory money to pay for them.
The Children's Society's work with young people on the streets also fed into a campaign to decriminalise prostitution for under-18s. Guided by its experience of young people involved with prostitution, it argued that child prostitution should be seen as a child protection issue, and that police and other agencies should protect children and young people from exploitation. In 1995, The Children's Society published the first report to highlight child prostitution in this way and the Association of Chief Police Officers and the Association of Directors of Social Services responded by making a public commitment to review the way they dealt with these children. The Children's Society continued to highlight the issue in 1997 by holding Britain's first conference on the subject, and publishing a detailed report. This resulted directly in fresh government guidelines in 2000 recommending that the police should treat the children as victims of abuse rather than as perpetrators of crime.
Over the years the work of The Children's Society has changed as society itself has changed. It has moved from caring for vulnerable children's homes to working with children and families in the community. What has stayed constant are the founder's Christian and child-centred values and intentions, which still inform its work today.
In 2003 The Children's Society defined its vision of how it would carry on its work into the 21st century. It now focusses its efforts upon four particular groups that most need help.
The Children’s Society also organises the Walk & Explore events, which enable you to discover some of England’s most historic towns and cities throughout the summer. These events are a great opportunity to come together with your local community to explore major landmarks and hidden treasures right on your doorstep.
In addition to the six flagship events around the country, there is also the opportunity to Organise-Your-Own Walk & Explore adventure; with a specially designed pack for organising your own event and a supporter hotline to provide additional support.
The Walk & Explore 2008 series is hoping to raise £350,000 to fund The Children's Society’s vital work across the country.
Walk & Explore is sponsored by Ecclesiastical Insurance