“What I’m doing isn’t earth-shattering, but it would be if everyone did it.”
That was the reflection of a Safe Families volunteer, shared by a member of staff at Safe Families during a recent gathering of faith based organisations and faith leaders concerned with the role of faith in supporting thriving families.
It is a reflection that resonates deeply with the vision that ChurchWorks has for equipping local congregations to transform the lives of the most vulnerable in our country and communities.
Since the very start of ChurchWorks, supporting children and families dealing with the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has been of paramount importance to the Commission’s work. At the first meeting of the Commission in October 2021, the Commissioners agreed that work should be targeted towards those most affected by the pandemic, including young people.
The roll-out of Family Hubs - a ‘one stop shop’ within a Local Authority making it easier for families to access vital local services to help improve health and education outcomes - therefore provided an excellent opportunity for ChurchWorks to proactively partner with Local Authorities to involve churches in new local structures to support the most vulnerable families.
Since then we’ve been working hard with different partners - including the National Centre for Family Hubs - to share practical tools with local churches and those leading family ministries and activities within them that will help them to get involved with their local Family Hub in a way that can increase the reach and impact of their ministry.
The gathering - drawing together organisations inspired by Christian, Muslim, Sikh and many other faiths - was reconvening after six months to review progress on achieving this ambition of getting faith communities involved in Family Hubs.
We heard from organisations already helping to deliver vital services to families through the Family Hubs model - like Spurgeons, a Christian charity that has been at the forefront of meeting the needs of vulnerable children for over 150, and now helping to create and run Family Hubs by brokering partnerships between churches and Local Authorities. Or Safe Families, where their community-based model that leverages relationships with 1,300 churches and over 5,000 volunteers to support families in need has helped to reduce the level of need for over half of the families supported and saved nearly £50 million a year in public spending. The event was also an opportunity for organisations looking to get involved with supporting Family Hubs to learn more about the landscape and how they could get involved, like Growing Hope, who partner with local churches to set up clinics within church buildings providing free therapy for children and young people with additional needs.
And we also reflected on the challenges that faith communities are facing in aligning their ambitions to love and serve families in their communities with the practical realities of engaging with the public sector and delivering statutory services. This is a challenge that ChurchWorks wants to support local churches to navigate successfully. If you are a church wanting to explore how to get involved with a Family Hub in your area, why not take advantage of our offer of a 30-minute consultation call with a member of the ChurchWorks team to help you navigate some of the complexities of working with the public sector? Just email us via email@example.com to arrange a time.
When we reflect that over 27,000 churches in this country run some form of early years project and that as many as 52% of all children in England access some form of parent and toddler group via churches, what one church or volunteer is doing might not feel ‘earth-shattering’, but the collective impact can be huge.
Could your church connect your children & families ministry with a Family Hub? Get in touch with us to explore what your role in this collective impact could be!