As someone who feels very strongly about the plight of children and young people, I wanted to draw attention to The Children’s Society, a charity whose story begins in 1881 when a young Sunday School teacher and Civil Servant in South London saw the effects of poverty on children and decided to do something about it. When two young boys failed to turn up for his Sunday School, he went to look for them and was shocked to find them begging for food on the streets. Their father had died, leaving their mother struggling to bring up seven children under the age of 11. Rudolf soon realised this was not a unique story and there were countless young people living in poverty and he decided to dedicate his life to improving the standards of children. He gained support from the Church of England and this enabled him to set up small Children’s Homes each with ten children aged 5 to 14, with a master and a matron acting as parents.
Today the Homes have gone, but The Children’s Society is still working hard to build a good society for all children. Today they battle with such things as sexual exploitation, drug trafficking, child abuse, poverty and many other things which make a child’s life difficult and often unbearable.
Thinking about a few statistics – on 30th March 2019, 399,510 children in England were categorised as being “in need”. Looking at a place in the South West, it was stated that Plymouth had 1,757 children in need. This means they have been assessed by children’s social care to require support from their local council because of issues such as abuse, neglect, domestic violence, substance misuse or mental ill health, or because they have different needs as a result of having caring responsibilities (looking after their parents or siblings) or a disability.
The Children’s Society believe that the best way to understand what is going on in children’s lives is to ask them directly. That’s why each year we ask children and young people about their own views on what improves and what hampers their well-being.
Every young person deserves a good childhood. The Children’s Society will not rest until we create a society built for all children.