Our newest priority area – covering the seven urban local authorities in the West Midlands – provides the best of working intensively at the heart of a community with the overarching support that being part of a large, national organisation can bring.
The Children’s Society has had a strong presence in the West Midlands since 1893 and last year alone we worked with over 3,000 children and young people. Our ambition is to reach 10,000 in the area by 2016.
Why we're investing in the West Midlands
- There are approximately 175,000 children in the West Midlands living in poverty. Yet 9 out of 10 people underestimate the extent of poverty in the area, with over one-third putting the figure below 25,000.
- In some wards in the region, over 50% of children live in poverty.
- In six of the seven urban local authorities, the average weekly gross pay is less than £500, lower than the national average.
- In six authorities, the percentage of benefit claimants is higher than the national average and in three it stands at over 20%.
- In Birmingham, unemployment is over 14%, almost twice the national average.
- In six of the authorities, infant mortality is higher than the national average.
- The average rate of teenage pregnancy (15 – 17-year-olds) stands at 50 per 10,000 in four authorities, and above the national average.
- The rate of looked-after children is considerably higher than the national average in all seven of the urban local authorities.
- We estimate that over 6,000 children run away from home or from care every year.
Building on our existing work in the West Midlands
Across the West Midlands, The Children’s Society is already undertaking some great work in our programmes and children’s centres.
We have begun working with Solihull Council to launch our organisation’s first Children and Family Zone around our children’s centres, building a community-led model for 0-19 provision in a small local area.
We’ve formed a new partnership with Birmingham City Council to bring the voice of children into the centre of the future of the city.
We completely support the review of services to support children at risk of sexual exploitation across the West Midlands led by Home Office director general of crime and policing, Stephen Rimmer, as a fantastic step in improving services and intervention for extremely vulnerable young people.
What we will do
Working in seven urban local authorities (Birmingham, Coventry, Dudley, Sandwell, Solihull, Walsall and Wolverhampton) in the West Midlands, we have four priorities:
- Put the voice of children and families at the centre of the fight against childhood poverty and adolescent neglect
- Roll out our Children and Family Zone (CFZ) model – influenced by the Harlem Children’s Zone, New York, USA – to improve the lives of children and families in the most deprived areas.
- Develop our community-based approach, including volunteers and supporters, to reach the highest number of vulnerable children and families.
- Deliver more innovative and impactful services to meet the needs of vulnerable children and families.
Why are we taking a new approach?
We want to work with partners to take a more strategic approach in our biggest cities – to become more than the sum of our parts.
By combining the clout of a national charity with local service delivery, knowledge and partnerships, we will be able to become more focused on the needs of children and young people within communities.
We will concentrate our campaigning, influencing and delivery work on the lives of children and young people and support more families out of poverty, building on our 15,000 supporters already working towards these aims in the West Midlands – but we will only achieve this through working alongside and investing within communities.
What will our new vision achieve?
Our vision for The Children’s Society in the West Midlands is clear. We want to be a part of a West Midlands where poverty is no longer a barrier to children getting a decent start in life and families and communities are supported so neglect is challenged.
Yet no one organisation can do this in isolation. Local authorities, health partners, schools, the voluntary and community sector and faith organisations need to come together to tackle child poverty and adolescent neglect in the West Midlands.
Where you can find us in the West Midlands
Click on our map to read more about our services.
Fundraising and donating
Our local fundraising team works with our brilliant groups, committees, supporters and other partners to raise the money which is so vital to our work.
We have a large group of committed people who volunteer their time to support our work.
Examples of volunteering opportunities include:
- befriending a young person in care by becoming an Independent Visitor at one of our children’s rights services
- helping out in one of our shops
- organising a fundraising event
Commission us and partner with us
Many local authorities and other organisations have chosen us to help them deliver their services.
We know that many areas are seeking new and innovative ways of addressing local needs and of empowering local communities to participate in finding solutions. In response we are reshaping our local services to strengthen our infrastructure and become more strategically focused on regions' and sub-regions' needs. We believe this makes us an important strategic partner.
Download the report about The Children’s Society in the West Midlands.
Learn more about what we do for young people and families across the country.