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Number 10

Corporate partners from professional services company Towers Watson and Bank of Ireland UK heard about our work supporting children with a parent in prison at a Number 10 Downing Street event.

Laura Senekal felt emotional listening to 17-year-old Lauren speak about the stigma and isolation she experienced when her step-father was imprisoned. And, at the Number 10 Downing Street event in January, the Co-chair of Corporate Social Responsibility at Towers Watson was also feeling inspired about the work Barnardo’s does supporting children with a parent in prison.

“It was my first time at Downing Street and also my birthday,” says Laura. “Everyone was there because we believe wholeheartedly in the work that Barnardo’s does with young people like Lauren. She was lovely and opened my eyes to what young people with parents in prison go through; it can be horrific. I left feeling committed and engaged and wanting to tell my colleagues what I’d learnt so we can raise as much as possible for Barnardo’s.”

Companies need to hear how they help charities

The event was an opportunity for Laura and representatives from current and past corporate partners, including John Lewis, Royal Bank of Scotland and Travelers Insurance, to hear about the work Barnardo’s does in this area.

We have 17 specialist services around the UK providing counselling and support for families, and work in prisons to help children visit their offending parents, maintaining crucial relationships and contact. This work is vital as currently, there are three times more children with a parent in prison in England and Wales than there are children in care.

Number 10

“The statistics are crazy and I think these young people have been forgotten,” says Laura. “Events like these are important because corporate partners like Towers Watson need to hear about how their fundraising helps charities. I went back to the office and wrote a newsletter article about the event. It was good to meet the celebrities who attended, like actors Michelle Collins and Warwick Davis, as well as the other corporate partners to hear about their fundraising.”

Spreading the word

Kay Hanneffy, Chief Operating Officer at the Bank of Ireland UK, was also at the event. She agrees that listening to Lauren’s personal experience showed the critical role Barnardo’s play in supporting vulnerable children across a spectrum of social issues. “It also clearly illustrated how all the efforts of Bank of Ireland UK employees who fundraise and volunteer for Barnardo’s can make a real and meaningful difference to vulnerable children,” says Kay.

Feeling connected to the cause your company supports is crucial. Laura says the event reminds her that people engage with people. This is why she says it’s important to include stories like Lauren’s or of staff fundraisers in communications about raising money for Barnardo’s. “Companies have a responsibility to lead by example and we have 3,000 staff to help get the word out there about issues like this,” says Laura.

It is estimated that more than 200,000 children are affected by the imprisonment of a parent or carer. Without support, this traumatic experience can have a devastating long-term impact. Shockingly, 65% of boys with a convicted parent go on to offend.

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