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20 June 2016

Every childhood matters

Abi Barnes
children silhouette

Father’s Day was a great opportunity to celebrate that as Christians we can call God our heavenly Father – a chance for us to reflect on the family of God, as well as to thank those who fulfil fathering roles in our lives.

However, amidst the thanksgiving traditionally associated with Father’s Day, we also need to acknowledge that in our church congregations, such days bring a mix of feelings. There will be those who don’t have a good relationship with their father, or who had an absent father. There will be people who find celebrating hard as they miss their own dad, or struggle with the ways in which their father wasn’t all he should have been.

A huge need

35,000 children enter the care system every year in the UK – a number which has risen steadily in recent years. More than half of children are taken into care because of abuse or neglect.

The population of Southampton is approximately 250,000. Southampton City Council is looking after more than 600 vulnerable young people. Bristol is a city with a population of approximately 440,000 and around 700 children in the care system. If you do the maths, you’ll see that Southampton does have a real problem on many levels.

But there is some hope.

child and adult hands

Recovering our biblical mandate

In 2011, the desperate shortage of foster carers and adoptive parents in the UK made headline news. Realising the potential of churches to meet this need, several Christian leaders who were also foster carers or adoptive parents committed to raising the profile of fostering and adoption within the UK Church.

Throughout 2012, the team worked hard, consulting with foster carers and adoptive parents, church leaders, and social work professionals, to develop a strategy. In March 2013, the Home for Good initiative was launched. It isn’t just about asking families to consider fostering or adopting, but also encouraging churches to wrap around those who do.

God makes it clear that His people are to look after the vulnerable. Throughout history, the Church has been at the forefront of doing this. At a time when council budgets are stretched to breaking point and thousands of children are waiting for families, Home for Good believes that we need to rediscover our biblical mandate and learn from our heritage. 

‘Families for Forty’ was a campaign in Southampton which was created in response to a passionate plea from a councillor for more fostering and adoption from faith communities. This has now become a local movement of Home for Good, which continued to support and encourage Christians and churches to be actively involved in an ongoing campaign.

grandparent and child

No child without a home

Home for Good has a voice into approximately 15,000 churches in the UK. If one family in each of these churches chose to foster or adopt, there would be no child in the UK without a home. This is a fantastic opportunity for the Church to be good news in society, to change communities, and to transform the lives of some of the country’s most vulnerable children. We want to demonstrate to the government that there are hundreds of churches which want to make a difference in the lives of vulnerable young people.

Did you know that Above Bar Church is now a Home for Good Church? We make sure our church is known as a safe place where looked-after children are welcomed, and families that foster or adopt are supported. We want to be part of the solution to find a stable, secure, and loving home for every child who needs one. There are currently four families who foster or adopt within Above Bar Church. Could that number rise this year – thanks to you?

Because every childhood matters.


Image credits (from top):
© SanShoot. Used under a CC-BY-ND-2.0 licence.
© Brett Davies. Used under a CC-BY-NC-SA-2.0 licence.
© Tim Ellis. Used under a CC-BY-SA-2.0

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1 comment

Annette Higgs on June 20, 2016

“Excellent article!”

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