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Christian charity Safe Families for Children has vowed to reduce the number of children going into care by up to 15% by using church volunteers.
Safe Families aim to provide alternative care to vulnerable children and struggling families.
In an evaluation commissioned and recently published by the Department for Education, Safe Families was called “one of the most adventurous start-ups in children’s services” with “the potential to support several thousand of England’s neediest children; to greatly reduce the numbers of children in care, and to demonstrably forge a new relationship between public systems and civil society.”
Its Chief Executive, Keith Danby, told Premier that volunteers are almost entirely from churches.
In a press release he said, “We owe a huge debt of gratitude to the thousands of volunteers who have come forward and who provide so much hope and opportunity to struggling families.”
Keith Danby was keen to explain to the Department of Education that Christian volunteers are the heartbeat of the organisation. Recalling a discussion he had with them, he said, “When I was talking to the chairman of the Department of Education’s innovation programme, he said ‘How have you managed to get 1,700 volunteers in 18 months?’
“And I said, ‘Well, it’s easy; I know where they are on a Sunday morning.’
And then he said, ‘But why do people want to get involved?’ and I said,
‘Well, because it’s part of our biblical mandate.’ “
He said that this was a great opportunity for the church to engage with the community who might not normally come into a church building.
Safe Families for Children was founded in the UK by philanthropist Sir Peter Vardy and has benefitted more than 3,800 children using its network of over 3,200 nationwide volunteers.