Research shows that one in six children in the UK live in poverty, with one in ten a victim of neglect.
Poverty is not the only issue affecting the country’s children, however, as the regular cases of trafficking and sexual exploitation highlighted in the media make only too clear. The notorious Operation Bullfinch involved the abuse of young girls just a few streets away from Viva’s Oxford office.
A couple of years ago, we felt compelled to ask how our global experience could be appropriately shared within the UK, without duplicating the excellent work already taking place.
We listened to the views of children, young people, parents, vicars, police, social care workers, teachers, youth workers and health workers. With this information we mapped the most significant issues affecting children and young people in Oxfordshire and the response of local churches to these needs.
The study, entitled ‘Doorsteps’, gathered data from over 200 people, and found the five major issues facing local children, young people and families to be: unstable family life and struggling parents; low self-esteem; lack of vision or aspiration for life; difficulty entering employment and household poverty. Click here to read the full research report.
The research highlighted a mismatch between churches’ aspirations and what they are actually doing. Considerable time is spent on activities with young people who already come to church, and are not generally as vulnerable as some others in the local community. However, three-quarters of churches surveyed wanted both to make an informed response to the needs of children and young people, and to have a more meaningful connection with those doing similar work.
WE ARE CURRENTLY RUNNING THREE PILOT PROJECTS:
- In East Oxford, a group of young people have been developing ways to break the cycle of underachievement by making positive choices, embracing opportunities and supporting each other. They are spreading positive messages using sports, music and social media. The partnership involves St Luke’s Church, Donnington Doorstep Family Centre, Oxford Youth Works, Oxford City Council and Viva.
- We have been working closely with our friends from Home for Good to encourage church leaders to support families within local churches to become foster carers.
- The Doorsteps network is enabling churches to proactively respond to the proposed closures of children’s centres which will see a huge reduction in services to vulnerable parents and their families.
To help you think through how your church could reach vulnerable children in your neighbourhood, we have developed a website with tools and resources at doorsteps.viva.org
If you’re interested in learning more about working together or would like training in specific areas for your church or community group, please email Katy at firstname.lastname@example.org