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Changing the system

by Michael Ford last modified 18 Dec, 2020 08:59 PM

This year has been a watershed in many ways, and not least for the work of the Children's Society as staff and volunteers seek to help children in need and transform their lives for good, long term.

Few could have predicted the tremendous impact that Covid-19 would have on the world and charity work. Yet, as Mark Russell, Chief Executive of the Children’s Society, remarks in his opening statement of this year’s Impact Report:

“I’ve had the privilege of seeing the incredible way in which this organisation and the young people we work with have responded.”

Mark highlights how the organisation has excelled through resourcefulness, resilience, dedication and strength:

“It is these qualities which shine through the 2019-20 Impact Report, which looks at the many ways in which the Children’s Society has impacted on the lives of young people and children in need, via services and campaigns.

“2,100 young people shared their voice and influence in youth action and insight work across the charity. 77% of children surveyed said that their lives had improved after working with us, while 87% said they were very happy with our services. 9,307 volunteers gave their time and skills to help offer 81 services around the country and 6 national programmes.”

The charity's 'Systems Change' work impacted the lives of 24,000 young people and brought about numerous changes to national policies, including:

  • An additional £1bn funding for children and adult social care.
  • An end to the benefits freezes in April 2020, through the End Child Poverty coalition and independent campaigning.
  • New guidance on how local authorities should identify and support EU national looked after children.
  • Care leavers becoming exempt from the Shared Accommodation Rate until their 25th birthday, as well as rough sleepers under 25, and victims of domestic violence and modern slavery under 35.
  • An amendment to the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012, bringing separated children back within scope of legal aid for their immigration and citizenship matters.

Thanks to an award of £200,000 from The National Lottery Community Fund, the charity rolled out new technology and training internally, giving staff the tools to work online and remotely, and to receive both Innovation and Agile Project Management training where needed.

The Report states:

“By 2030, we will have overturned the damaging decline in children’s well-being.”

Gill Ford, the Society's Relationship Manager for Salisbury and Bristol said:

“The Covid-19 pandemic has turned young people’s lives upside down. We need to help young people understand what they have been through and put them at the heart of the UK recovery. From the success of our Include service for young carers, to our vital HEARTS work with asylum seekers and refugees, and BEAM’s spotlight on CYPs’ emotional well-being, the 2019-2020 Impact Report reflects that, despite a challenging year, the Children’s Society has continued to excel in helping vulnerable children and young people across the country.”

Read the report here.

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