Safe Families for Children (Safe Families) was brought to Scotland in partnership with Bethany Christian Trust so collaboration is in our DNA. The Safe Families model itself is about linking needs with existing resources – linking isolated families with groups of people who have the motivation and ability to be generous and hospitable to others. This culture of partnership extends beyond collaboration with other charities and churches. We are working closely with social workers, health visitors, doctors and teachers to understand the needs in Scotland’s communities and identify families who could benefit from our support.
We accept referrals from anyone for any reason (including families who refer themselves for help), but at present, approximately 90% of our referrals come from the local authority. This is partly due to our positive reputation in Edinburgh South West, where we piloted our work in Scotland just one year ago, and the experience of our Family Support Manager, Lyn Hair, who was a social worker for many years before joining Safe Families for Children.
When describing Safe Families for Children to a colleague, Sean Bell, Children and Families Practice Team Manager in Edinburgh South West said, ‘Many of the parents we deal with are hampered by their social isolation and lack of extended family support. They just do not have anyone who can take their kids for a weekend or an afternoon, or someone to give them a new washing machine when they most need it, or build up some flat-packed furniture. Safe Families is filling these gaps.’
Our work is now city-wide in Edinburgh, and our office in Glasgow is up and running. As Safe Families for Children expands, we want to relieve more of the burden from overloaded social workers and help prevent further decline in families’ often precarious situations.
Over the summer, our partner Bethany Christian Trust hosted a special meeting with the Cabinet of the Scottish Government and discussed how poverty and inequality affect our country as well as the role that organisations like Bethany and Safe Families for Children play in building a fairer Scotland. “Scotland is a wealthy country – but around one in six people are currently living in poverty. That is completely unacceptable,” First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said at the meeting. Working together with like-minded individuals in the public, private, voluntary and faith sectors, we can offer holistic solutions to Scotland’s most pressing needs.
As we grow, we want to see partnership in Scotland grow too and see a culture of generosity emerge. Healthier, stronger families will foster healthier, stronger children, and what’s good for Scotland’s children is good for Scotland’s future.
*In the photo, First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, poses for a photo with Bethany Christian Trust’s (BCT) Chief Executive, Iain Gordon, following a Scottish Government Cabinet meeting at BCT.