The Children's Society
In 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. Their father had died, leaving their mother struggling to bring up seven children all younger than 11 years old. 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 in the corridors of power.
The Children's Society no longer runs children’s homes, but works directly with children and families in their communities all over the country. The Society helps protect young runaways from the dangers of life on the street and gives a voice to children in care and disabled children, whose rights are so often infringed. The Children's Society helps young refugees to rebuild their lives. It supports young carers to enjoy freedom from their responsibilities and the Society’s children’s centres help families to thrive and give babies and young children the best possible start in life.
The voices of children are at the heart of all The Children's Society does– in the past few years the Society has spoken directly to over 30,000 children to find out what really matters in their lives. What the Society found was of great concern – at any one moment, around half a million children are profoundly dissatisfied with their lives, they have low subjective well-being.
That’s why The Children's Society mission today is to tackle the injustice of poverty and to stop the harm that blights so many children’s lives.
The Archbishop of York 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.
Since then the Archbishop has been vocal in support of the Fair and Square campaign to help 1.2 million poor children in England have access to free school meals. Just one of the ways in which The Children’s Society is challenging the injustice of poverty.
Over the coming years The Children's Society will continue to fight poverty and injustice, transforming lives and improving children’s well-being. It will challenge the negative attitudes that blight the lives of troubled young people and work with communities to understand the needs of their younger members.
The Society will do this by providing services in local areas all around the country, by influencing policy and practice and by working with partners in churches, schools and communities. And it will always, always keep talking to children, listening, learning and ensuring their voice is at the heart of everything The Children's Society does.