A report by the Family Matters Institute (a national Christian-based charity working to address issues relating to and affecting children, young people and families) has revealed the essential role played by the Christian Church in non-commissioned, early intervention services.
Working with Christian Research and The Consultative Group on Ministry Amongst Children (CGMC), the Family Matters Institute mapped nationally, the activities Christian Churches are undertaking in the community, including the levels of engagement with workforce reform initiatives. Some key findings that emphasise the importance of the church in reaching children, families and young people are as follows:
- 86 per cent of churches provide activities for children, young people and families in the community. Given that there are around 37,500 churches in England, this suggests a possible 32,000 churches working across England to provide services in this context.
- Of the churches who provide any activities for children, young people and families in the community, our research indicated that 94 per cent access some kind of training.
- Approximately 45 per cent of these churches work with other VCS organisations and up to 86 per cent work with schools and preschools. Other links identified were extended schools, health visitors, children’s centres, youth offending teams, education welfare officers and social work teams.
Also highlighted in the research is that fact that a massive 79 per cent of churches receive no funding for their work with children, young people and families. The training that churches access in order to equip volunteers and staff usually happens in partnership with statutory or VCS providers – commissioned and funded by the church itself. This indicates a clear commitment and a proactive approach to workforce development.
For a project like Kids Matter to run in communities, a partnership with a church is required in order to fund the training of facilitators as well as sustain the Kids Matter initiative itself. It would be amazing if the Government was able to recognise the importance of the church in the strengthening of families in the community, and offer financial support so that programmes like Kids Matter can be widely implemented.