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01 October 2013

Southampton churches set the bar on fostering

Southampton churches set the bar on fostering

When churches in Southampton heard that the city council were facing huge budget cuts, they called a meeting for church and community leaders. Those who came heard about many of the issues facing the city, one of which was a passionate plea from a councillor for more fostering and adoption from faith communities.

Following the meeting, churches committed to 21 days of prayer and reflection on what had been shared by the council. After this, it was decided that the Church should be proactive in finding 40 new foster placements for children in care. In March, they presented Southampton's fostering team with 40 keys, each key representing a home they plan to find for vulnerable children. The keys, mounted on a plaque, with the Bible text, "God sets the lonely in families" (Psalm 68:6), now hangs on the wall of the council building as a visible reminder of the pledge the churches have made to step up to meet this need.

Last week we heard that in just a few months there have been more than 40 families from churches in Southampton who have started the assessment process to become foster carers.

These are astonishing results and news of this is sending ripples throughout local authorities in the UK. The Home for Good initiative, spearheaded by Care for the Family, CCPAS and the Evangelical Alliance, frequently receive phone calls and emails from local authorities desperate to work with churches in their area! As a church leader, will you step up to this challenge?

A shortage of foster carers and adoptive families is not a problem unique to Southampton. In the UK, 4,600 children are waiting to be adopted and 9,000 new foster placements are urgently needed. The good news is that there are more than 15,000 churches in the UK. Imagine if one family in each church started to foster or chose to adopt, and other families wrapped around them to offer support. The lives of thousands of vulnerable children would be transformed – and the churches would be known for being good news in the community.

What could you do in your area for children who desperately need a home for good?

1)
Visit the Home for Good website, to find out about a nationwide initiative to engage the Church with fostering and adoption.
2)
Join with churches across the UK by taking part in Adoption Sunday on 3 November. Whether it's a 10-minute slot or an entire adoption-themed service, once you've signed up, we'll provide you with all the ideas and resources you need to make it happen.
3)
Speak to other churches in your area and see if they'd be willing to explore further what, together, you could do in your area. Then, contact the Home for Good team who would be delighted to meet with you and talk further about the possibilities.

Krish Kandiah, Evangelical Alliance, executive director: England / churches in mission

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