Charities & Ministries We Love
, Whole Heart Ministries
, Marriage Foundation
, Safe Families
, Kids Matter
More than 1 million neural connections are formed per second in a baby’s brain. We develop faster in the first years of life than at any other time. There is clear and compelling evidence to suggest that the developmental phases occurring in first 1001 days of a child’s life (including pregnancy and the first two years after) lay the foundation for every child’s future health, well-being, learning, resilience, adaptability; the competencies they need to thrive.
Why then, is so little attention given to this critical moment of development that is, in fact, a beautiful opportunity to make a massive difference in a child’s well-being and future?
Driven by a vision to see every child in need raised in a strong family, our evidence-informed parenting programme engages local churches to equip parents and carers facing disadvantages with confidence, competence and community, enabling their children to thrive. The original Kids Matter programme is written specifically for parents of children under 10 years of age yet after running numerous groups with parents living in poverty and isolation, we realised that a programme focused specifically on the earliest years was needed.
Written by Kat Osborn, Chief Executive Officer of Safe Families
If children are to have the best opportunity to do well in life, parenting support should start in the first 1001 days—in pregnancy; the earliest
of early interventions. And thus, Babies Matter was born.
The Babies Matter parenting programme aims to support first time parents facing disadvantages as they become parents so that their baby has the best start in life. It does this by helping parents understand and tune into their baby’s social, emotional and cognitive needs. Through encouraging sensitive parenting a secure attachment between them and their baby is likely to develop, enabling healthy brain development and laying good foundations for life.
We know the transition to parenthood is a stressful time but for those facing additional challenges in life such as previous mental illness, poverty, single parenting or domestic abuse, this can be an especially difficult time. The Covid-19 pandemic has also done a good job of exacerbating these disadvantages. The "Babies in Lockdown" report found that many families with lower incomes, from Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities and young parents have been hit harder by the Covid-19 pandemic, which is likely to have widened the already deep inequalities in the early experiences and life chances of children across the UK.
Research suggests the stress of lockdown can impact an individual’s mental health as well as put additional strain on the parenting relationship, which is why Babies Matter actively focus on strengthening relationships and prioritises parental well-being.
Babies Matter lays the foundations for strong parent child relationships by enhancing parental sensitivity and building strong attachment between parent and baby. The programme works with expectant parents and those in their first year of parenting to build confidence, competence and community, enabling babies to thrive. It is a great precursor to the Kids Matter programme and shares our vision for every child in need to be raised in a strong family.
Kids Matter is a programme that engages with families and young children before crisis point – it strengthens families by giving mums and dads the tools to be competent, confident parents or caregivers. To get involved, as a volunteer or by financially supporting our programme, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
At Safe Families we believe no one should feel alone. Facing life alone is hard, and when you feel there is no one there to support you it is a scary place to be. Therefore, at Safe Families we offer support, hope and belonging to improve the lives of those in our communities.
Research has linked social isolation and loneliness to higher risks for a variety of physical and mental conditions. When you are lonely the feeling of shame and fear leads to a negative cycle which can have serious consequences. Evidence also shows that a positive mutual relationship with even just one other individual can begin to reverse that negative cycle as people feel that they are connected and accepted. That is how we at Safe Families truly understand belonging – when you feel fully seen, heard and understood.
This is why Safe Families partner with nearly 40 Local Authorities across the UK to support isolated families, children and care leavers who feel they have no sense of belonging. Families Like Chloe, Chloe is an 8-year-old girl, she loves her family and wants to live in a happy and loving home. The problem is her mum misuses drugs, and although Chloe loves her mum, she knew that it was not safe for her to live with mum.
Social services also felt it wasn’t safe for Chloe or her 2 sisters, so they asked her dad to care for them, the problem is dad had not been that involved in his daughters lives and he didn’t think he would be able to care for them, he wondered whether they would be better off being in care. However, he also knew that Chloe wanted to live with her family who she loved. This was when dad met Safe Families, we explained that there were people in the community that would love to support him and his girls, we knew he could be a good dad with some support. So together we came up with a plan.
A couple had the 3 girls to stay once a month, the girls loved going to stay, they were able to bake and play at the park. This also gave dad a break, so he could recharge his batteries.
Another couple visited the family in their home, dad was able to go out for a pint with the male volunteer, and chat about how things were going and the challenges they were facing.
Chloe’s dad has said “…the support has been excellent and initially I didn’t think I had the capacity to care for my girls, however I have become stronger, well and confident. I know there are people who can help me, and that I can be a good dad.”
Find out more about Safe Families here
Written by Michaela Hyde, Executive Director of Marriage Foundation
It was in 2012, after more than four decades in the Family Courts (fourteen as a High Court Judge), that Sir Paul Coleridge set up Marriage Foundation to spearhead a campaign to tackle and reduce family breakdown in our nation. His experiences in the family justice system moved him to act in order to challenge public opinion to demonstrate that the commitment of marriage affects the outcomes of all of our children.
Since those beginnings, Marriage Foundation has been championing marriage as the ‘gold standard’ for couple relationships and dispelling myths that marriage is just a piece of paper that makes no difference. By undertaking, publishing and broadcasting ground-breaking research we have heightened public, media and government awareness and understanding of the scale of family breakdown. To date, we have produced more than 40 research papers and have been interviewed, quoted or cited more than 1,000 times in mainstream media.
Our research has shown that 90% of cohabiting parents who stay together until their children reach 15 years of age are married, and that divorce rates have been on the decline for eight years and are now at their lowest for fifty years. But sadly, in contrast, unmarried cohabitants break up at three times the rate of married couples. Unmarried parents make up only 19% of all couples with dependent children, yet account for half of all family breakdown.
Why does this matter? Because it is well documented that those who experience family breakdown when aged 18 or younger are typically twice as likely to experience many of the challenging social issues facing our society today, including mental health, reduced educational attainment, crime or homelessness.
Our hope is that all children, couples and families thrive and are able to live their very best lives. Stable families need the security of stable marriage (or formal commitment). There is huge significance in the process of deciding to commit in marriage. Without that decision, there is ambiguity and ambiguity can put a relationship at risk. Marriage really does matter, this isn’t just a hunch, it’s based on robust research that is there to inform our nation. Government, media, couples, individuals, rich, poor, young and old, we want everyone to not only see that marriage is the best arrangement but to also act on this knowledge.
The mission of Whole Heart Ministries, which was started in 1994 by Clay and Sally Clarkson, is to encourage, equip, enable, and engage Christian parents to raise wholehearted children for Christ. Visit the Ministry website to find out more and discover their resources. We also recommend visiting Sally’s website to read her beautiful blog and listen to her encouraging podcast.
Written by Liz Ogborne, Mullers Museum Coordinator
Mullers have been supporting families in need for almost 200 years. Our mission today is the same as our founder George Müller, to strengthen the Church to meet the need of the vulnerable. Müller was a Prussian evangelist who, in the 1830s, moved to Bristol, where the charity is still based. He and his wife Mary arrived just as the first of three cholera outbreaks struck and, with hundreds of children orphaned and destitute, wanted to do something to help. They started by renting one house for 30 orphan girls in the city centre and ended up, 35 years later, having opened 5 huge orphan homes, housing and educating 2050 children at one time – a total of 10,000 children during his lifetime. Müller had no income of his own. Each time he felt led by God to open a new orphan home, he announced his plans and then prayed. Prayer and trusting in God for all his own and the orphans’ needs characterised his life. As the work grew, people from all over the world donated. In his lifetime he received gifts of money and goods totalling £100m in today’s terms.
In 1834 Müller and his close friend, Henry Craik set up the Scriptural Knowledge Institute (SKI) to support missionaries at home and abroad. Its aim was to provide a cheap source of Bibles and tracts, and to open and support Day and Sunday Schools for adults and children. Müller’s values are still evident in our work. We are passionate about strengthening the Church to meet the needs of the vulnerable.
Today, SKI supports many partners - individuals and organisations - in this country and around the world who are working to bring hope and healing to vulnerable children, families and widows. On average, SKI sends around £95,000 every month in gifts to around 160 individuals and organisations, facilitated by unsolicited gifts from some 1,300 supporters.
We formally partner with the South West team of ‘Home for Good,’ a Christian charity engaged in the care system that seeks to provide a home for every child that needs one. We also administrate the Bristol City Churches Fund, which at this time of coronavirus is focussed on helping feed hungry children and families of the city, as well as preparing for the long-term effect lockdown will have on food poverty.
Although the times have changed, our purpose at Müllers has not. We continue to focus on meeting the needs of vulnerable children and families around the world as we remember the words of Müller himself, “Our primary aim…is to show that God is faithful still and hears prayers still.”