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Barnardo’s believes in children, no matter the adversity they face or mistakes they have made. This is the ethos that inspires our work. With our support they are empowered to reach their potential and transform their lives.
Whatever the issues that matter to you – education, poverty, abuse, managing disability, domestic violence, or crime – you can be part of a lasting solution. Together we can be there for children who have nowhere else to turn.
“Mark called me his girlfriend. I thought he’d protect me. But he didn’t. He locked me away and wanted me to have sex with his friends. Rachel from Barnardo’s found me. Rachel understood me and now I feel like there’s a future for me."
- Ashley’s story
Across the UK, children are being targeted, groomed and exploited for sex. The devastating impact can last a lifetime. Children, some as young as 10, are preyed upon by adults, often posing as friends or boyfriends, who exploit their vulnerability. Latest studies show a shocking 16,500 children are at high risk of sexual exploitation. Our services are treating a growing number of victims, with a 20% increase in recent years.
Barnardo’s has been dedicated to supporting children who have suffered from this horrific abuse for over 15 years. We are the largest provider of sexual exploitation support services in the UK. Last year as well as providing direct intense support to 1,450 affected children, we also reached 7,000 children through our preventative education programmes.
Our approach to this issue is threefold:
No child should suffer exploitation – we must all work together to protect the innocence of children.
“My son was literally in shock. He was having night terrors, nightmares. I would wake up at three o’clock in the morning and he would be in the loo, just rocking and saying ‘I want my daddy, I want my daddy.’”
- Mother of a 6-year-old supported by Barnardo’s
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.
This issue can disrupt family relationships and move children away from homes they love. A significant number lose contact with their imprisoned parent. Children may be bullied at school and worry about their parent, as well as struggle with feelings of tremendous shame.
Children affected are twice as likely to have mental health issues, and are three times more likely to behave anti-socially. At Barnardo’s we want to break this cycle and change their lives for the better. Our 21 support services look beyond the prisoner and help the family left behind. We run parenting programmes to help the remaining parent communicate with their child and manage difficult behaviour. We support family prison visits and advocate on the child’s behalf to make sure families get the support they need from community services.
We believe all children deserve a good start in life, regardless of their family circumstances.
“It’s like I have a family, one that I’ve always wanted. It’s nice having people tell me I’m important and that I can do things."
– A young person in Barnardo’s supported accommodation
Young people leaving local authority care are one of the most vulnerable groups in society. In many cases they have experienced a chaotic and traumatic upbringing. Some, as young as 16 years old, find themselves trying to cope alone with the most basic aspects of daily life. This can be a frightening and lonely experience.
Without support, the outcomes for children leaving the care system are poor.
Barnardo’s supports young people leaving care through 22 dedicated centres across the UK. Together, we bridge the gap between leaving the care system and living in the adult world.
We work with young people on an individual basis so they can embrace their future positively; working on life skills, job applications or the transition into further education. We provide planned and emergency accommodation to prevent homelessness. We also help them live independently with confidence.
Many young care leavers have been failed in childhood; we must not fail them in adulthood.
“I did the work I was asked to do, put my head down and passed everything, got all my certificates. I wouldn’t be going to college now without the Hub.”
Youth unemployment has reached record levels in recent years. Over 1.3 million young people are not in any education, employment or training. Young people not in education, employment or training are more likely to be homeless, commit crime, and suffer mental and physical health problems.
This problem will undoubtedly have damaging consequences for years to come. It will reduce the future job prospects of an entire generation of young people. Often those who experience a spell of unemployment in their youth suffer a deterioration of wage and employment prospects in adulthood. Evidence shows that in their lifetime this group will cost society at least 12 billion.
Barnardo’s has 29 employment and training services. Our services give a young person a future and a reason to believe in themselves. We do this through a range of vocational courses, careers guidance, apprenticeship opportunities and the acquisition of new life skills. Your donation will mean we can reach more young people. It can prevent the huge cost to society and the bleak fallout that often results.
Projects like the Hub Construction Skills Centre provide kids who have been failed by mainstream education with an alternative. Kids aged 14 to 19 can study a range of courses in electrics, plumbing, decorating and carpentry. It helped kids like Ricky gain an education. When he first went to the Hub he lacked direction. At the Hub he learnt different trades and also worked on his Maths and English skills. He graduated with all his certificates and claims that he wouldn’t be going to college without the Hub.
Barnardo’s gives a young person a future and a reason to believe in themselves again.
“Barnardo’s has really helped me. They’re good at understanding, they don’t judge. You can trust them like you would a true friend, they give good advice. I feel really positive about the future now.”
- Tanya, a 16-year-old carer
Some children spend hours each day looking after a sick family member at the expense of their childhood and education.
Young carers take on very adult responsibilities. They care for a loved one who could be disabled, suffer from mental health problems, or misuse drugs or alcohol. There are over 160,000 young carers in England alone. Some of them are as young as six.
Daily tasks can include cleaning, nursing and providing emotional and physical support for the person they look after. Their responsibilities affect every aspect of their lives. Young carers achieve on average eight grades lower at GCSE level than their peers. Over two thirds of young carers say they are bullied and many struggle with anxiety and depression. For many families, a Barnardo’s project is their only source of support.
Barnardo’s 22 specialist projects support almost 4,000 young carers each year to cope with their overwhelming commitments, but with your support we would like to reach many more.
Our life-changing services include counselling, education and mentoring, advocacy and advice to make sure families receive available support. This lessens the burden on the child. We also provide trips and activities, where young carers can socialise with other children facing similar challenges.
Barnardo’s gives young carers the space to be children and make the transition into happy, healthy young adults.
"The difference in Maxine following the DIY project on her house was immense. It was noticeable that Maxine’s mood improved, her self esteem raised and she was proud of her home. Maxine’s baby loved her beautiful bedroom which was now a safe and comfortable room for her to be in."
- Maxine's project worker
Throughout her childhood, Maxine was exposed to abuse. Both of her parents would physically attack her. When her parents split up and her mum found a new partner who was equally aggressive, Maxine decided to leave. Despite being just 13 years old, Maxine felt almost relieved.
Maxine was moved around a lot within the care system. She lived with three foster parents and at two different children’s centres. Maxine’s violent upbringing had led her to become violent herself. She was twice kept in young offenders’ centres after assaulting others.
When she met another care leaver, Maxine thought she was in love. But her boyfriend started to hit her and, at 17, she fell pregnant. Maxine didn’t know what to do or where to go. Still in the care system, she was referred to Barnardo’s Derbyshire Leaving Care Service. It was there that she met Penny, her Barnardo’s Support Worker.
Penny helped Maxine find a refuge so that she felt safe and secure. When her daughter Jade was born, Penny was there to help arrange childcare. Barnardo’s provided cookery classes to help Maxine gain independence and provide healthy meals for her daughter. The Service provided financial support and guidance at a time when Maxine was desperate. When Maxine’s mum requested access to Jade, Penny supported Maxine and attended court sessions with her.
In time, Barnardo’s helped Maxine to move into her own flat. Penny organised for a group of volunteers to come and decorate the bedrooms. Maxine was over-the-moon – she loved having her own space and was able to create a home for herself and Jade.
Maxine feels much more confident now and wants to go to university to study Criminology or Art. The transformation is incredible – from a traumatic childhood and youth offending, Maxine has been able to become a happy, independent young mum. The support and belief of Barnardo’s has been essential in empowering her to make this change.
Thank you for helping us to be there for children like Maxine.