Children’s charity reconnects with faith origins

01 Nov 2017 News

Children’s charity Spurgeons has bucked the trend of some faith-based charities in recent years by reconnecting with its Christian heritage in recent years, chief executive Ross Hendry has said.

Speaking to Charity Finance, Hendry said an increase in charities’ reliance on commissioning work as a source of income since the turn of the century had led some organisations, including Spurgeons, to downplay their religious origins.

He said some local authorities had negative preconceptions about religious charities’ ability to provide statutory services.

But Hendry, who joined Surgeons in 2014, said his charity “stopped at the point where we thought ‘we are drifting’” and reconnected with its Christian heritage.

“People are realising that there are many disadvantageous consequences of downplaying our faith and drifting away from that,” he said.

“Part of our new strategy is to say ‘this is who we are, this is what we stand for’. Our values are not a badge that we wear when it is convenient.”

Hendry, a former policy officer at Unison, said the charity’s faith base has led him to restructure the organisation’s staff, stopping its use of casual workers employed as and when needed, and instead using full-time staff.

The charity has also started paying at least the Living Wage Foundation’s pay benchmark, which is higher than the government’s minimum requirements.

“Inherent to our faith basis is the belief that each individual is created with dignity and should be respected. We cannot bypass our staff in that,” he said.

Expansion

Spurgeons has recently been successful in a joint bid for a contract to run children’s centres in Birmingham, as part of which it will take on about 200 members of staff previously employed by Birmingham City Council.

The charity, which currently employs about 300 people and whose income is £15.2m, says it will receive £4.7m per annum to service the contract for five years, with the potential for a two-year extension.

The overall contract aims to integrate the city’s youth health and social care services, about 60 per cent of which will be led by the local trust, Birmingham Health and Community.

The social care part of the contract will be co-delivered by Barnardo’s in five part of the city, Spurgeons in four parts, with St Paul’s Trust and The Springfield Trust providing additional services.

The full interview with Ross Hendry is in this month's Charity Finance magazine.

 

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