A CHRISTIAN charity that mobilises volunteers to step in when families are in need has helped keep 1400 youngsters out of care since it was set up three years ago.
Safe Families provides volunteers who help vulnerable families in times of crisis. Deborah Stephenson, who suffers from the chronic medical condition Fibromyalgia, was recently helped by the charity after she feared that her two children would have to be taken into care when she went into hospital for a vital operation.
Ms Stephenson, who is a single mother from Middlesbrough, said: “Before Safe Families were involved, I used to refuse to go into hospital, even though my health was deteriorating, because my children are my priority.
“I was too worried in case Social Services took my children from me, because I’m a single parent and I have no family ties.”
Safe Families intervened, through a Social Services referral, when Deborah’s condition became so bad that she was rushed into hospital as an emergency. The charity will now care for both of her daughters while she has treatment.
The charity, first set up in the US in 2003, was founded in the UK in 2013 by the philanthropist and entrepreneur Sir Peter Vardy. It has partnerships with 20 local authorities and more than 500 churches, to help vulnerable children and parents in need. It has helped more than 1400 youngsters who may have otherwise have had to go into care, through its network of 2500 volunteers.
Volunteers mentor families who are struggling, and look after children who need respite care, for anything from a night to a fortnight. To date, it has provided more than 1000 nights of respite care. The aim is to reduce the percentage of children going into care by ten per cent each year, and it plans to recruit many more volunteers to assist its work.