Child and Youth Charities

Childrens and Youth Charities in the UK

Barnardo's

UK-based Barnardo's was founded in London in 1866. This organisation was established by Thomas Barnardo, a physician who aimed to offer shelter, training, and education to orphans and children who were homeless or destitute. During the early 20th century, this charity founded several care homes and orphanages, although later on its scope evolved to include adoption and fostering services. Nowadays, this organisation focusses on ending child poverty and on transforming the lives of disadvantaged and vulnerable children. To achieve this, Barnardo's focuses its work on areas like counselling, training, and social inclusion programmes, which target children with disabilities, a history of substance abuse, domestic violence, or sexual exploitation, or those who have mental problems. Barnardo's also works with homeless, refugee, and ethnic minority children. The charity also runs awareness-raising campaigns and funds research with the objective of bringing about policy changes.

Volunteers can sign up as campaigners, online fundraisers, interns, and event co-ordinators. There are also opportunities to work at Barnardo's charity shops and to get directly involved with the charity's work by becoming a mentor or a befriender. To find out about Barnardo's full range of volunteering opportunities, visit www.barnardos.org.uk/get_involved.

The Children's Society

The Children's Society was founded in 1881 by a school teacher who was concerned about the growing number of children who lived below the poverty line in 19th-century London. Edward Rudolf (the founder) was also concerned about the conditions under which children had to live at orphanages and workhouses, so he decided to build a network of care homes where the physical and psychological needs of children were adequately addressed. In the 1970s the focus of this charity shifted towards empowering children and young people so that they could take charge of their lives and build a better future for themselves. In recent years, The Children's Society has set up day-care centres, social justice programmes, and mentoring schemes all over the UK that aim to help children at risk, young carers, young refugees, Gypsy and Roma children, and those affected by broken families and substance misuse. The Children's Society has also commissioned far-reaching inquiries that have helped modify public policy.

To get involved with the work carried out by this charity, you can volunteer your time as a fundraiser, joining one of the charity's many campaigns, helping out at the charity's retail shops, or offering support to children and their families at one of The Children's Society centres. Find out more at www.childrenssociety.org.uk/what-you-can-do.

Action for Children

This not-for-profit organisation was initially set up as a network of children's homes built to offer support to street children. Action for Children was created in 1868 under the motto 'as long as it takes', in reference to the charity's continued efforts to improve the lives of disadvantaged children. Throughout its 140 years of history, Action for Children has strived to provide vulnerable children and their families with guidance and genuine support, mainly thanks to a large number of community-based programmes and to the charity's campaigning for up-to-date laws and policy. The organisation also offers support to young people on topics like education, training, money management, housing, and anti-social behaviour. Moreover, this charity funds research on issues like child abuse, special needs education, adoption, child neglect, and benefit caps.

Volunteers can help fundraise, become foster carers or campaigners, or donate their time by getting involved in activities like public speaking, outreach, mediation, care giving, mentoring, counselling, or event planning. Detailed information is available at www.actionforchildren.org.uk/get-involved.

YHA

The Youth Hostels Association was established in 1930 and it has since become one of the UK's top-50 youth charities. This organisation aims to help young people cherish their cultural and natural heritage and to inspire them to travel and broaden their horizons. The YHA operates a network of youth hostels that accommodate individuals as well as families in a positive and healthy environment. The charity also offers financial assistance to young people from disadvantaged backgrounds through their Breaks for Kids scheme.

Volunteers can help maintain hostels, act as camp leaders or student ambassadors, and use their skills as photographers, administrators, gardeners, or learning assistants. More information can be found at www.yha.org.uk/volunteering.

Catch22

Although Catch22 is one of the most recently founded young people charities in the UK, this organisation has already had a large impact on the lives of more than 40,000 young people from all over the country. The charity itself was founded in 2008, as a result of the merger between two well-established youth work NGOs: Crime Concern and the Rainer Foundation. Catch22 aims to help build a bridge between the voluntary and the private sectors in order to increase the number of opportunities available to vulnerable young people. This organisation works closely with employers and other charitable foundations, building partnerships and creating training and mentoring programmes, as well as apprenticeships, work placements, and social action projects.

Volunteers can participate in the charity's projects by becoming mentors and peers. For more information on the opportunities available, visit www.catch-22.org.uk/offers/provide-peer-volunteer-mentors.

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