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This is an archived website containing material relating to Dr Rowan Williams’ time as Archbishop of Canterbury, which ended on 31st December 2012

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The Children's Society

The Children's SocietyIn the late nineteenth century, Edward Rudolf, a young Sunday school teacher in South London, found himself confronted by the brutal effects of poverty on the lives of children. After two young boys failed to turn up for his Sunday school, he was shocked to find them begging for food on the streets. Theirs was not an isolated experience and Rudolf was moved to act.

He approached Archbishop Tait, then Archbishop of Canterbury, to express his concern for children living on the margins of society and suggested that the Church of England should be at the forefront of social action for such children. Soon after, the Church of England Central Home for Waifs and Strays, later to become The Children’s Society, was established.

The Children's Society has been providing frontline support and protection for vulnerable children ever since, while also speaking out for disadvantaged children and young people in the corridors of power.


Working directly with children and families to tackle the root causes of child poverty and neglect

The Children’s Society no longer runs children’s homes, but instead works directly with children and families in their communities all over the country to tackle the root causes of child poverty and neglect. This is done through helping protect young runaways from the dangers of life on the street; giving a voice to children in care and disabled children, whose rights are so often infringed; helping young refugees to rebuild their lives, and supporting young carers to enjoy freedom from their responsibilities. The Children's Society's children’s centres help families to thrive and give babies and young children the best possible start in life.

The Archbishop of York as one of the Presidents of The Children’s Society has played a key role in spear-heading this mission.

Dr Sentamu launched The Children’s Society report on the state of children’s well-being – The Good Childhood Report 2012 at the Edward Rudolf lecture in January 2012. In that speech he called on everyone - politicians, professionals and families - to truly listen to what children tell us about their lives, about what is going wrong, and what needs to change.

Dr Sentamu has also been vocal in support of The Children's Society's Fair and Square campaign to help 1.2 million children living in poverty in England have access to free school meals. This campaign has had several successes recently, with the government announcing that all infant school children will receive free school meals as well as an extension of provision for disadvantaged young people in further education. But there is still work to do until all children living in poverty get the support they need for the best chance in life.

Over the coming years in partnership with the Church and communities, The Children’s Society will continue to transform lives by fighting poverty and neglect. It will influence policy and practice and keep talking to children, listening, learning and ensuring that their voices are at the heart of everything it does.