For a number of years now, Life Church in Southampton have been developing their partnership with Southampton City Council and the national initiative ‘Home for Good’. It is a long term project, but is bearing fruit!
Our vision is simple - a home for every child who needs one.
In the UK, there is an urgent need for more than 7,000 foster families and there are not enough people coming forward to adopt children who wait the longest for adoption - children over the age of four, with additional needs, from black and minority ethnic communities and who are part of a sibling group.
We believe that the Church can make a difference. Home for Good raises awareness of the need for foster and adoptive parents, encourages families to provide loving homes for the children in care, and equips the Church to offer welcoming communities for them.
Home for Good Southampton has inspired of a number of local movements, churches and individuals who are making our vision a reality.
Chris and Jo Kilby, who lead the Life Church team and Home for Good Southampton are adoptive parents themselves, and currently two more couples on the Life Church leadership team are also adopting. Each story is unique, and it’s a great thrill to see children finding families. We think it is something very much on God’s heart!
One of the initiatives from Southampton is their ‘Open Evenings’. These are opportunities for anyone to come and find out more about both fostering and adopting, and to hear some real life stories. The evenings are run in partnership with the council adoption and fostering team, who present something of the journey for those considering beginning the adventure, from the first nervous phone call, though to welcoming children home.
One key event this year, which we are encouraging all Commission Churches to be involved with is our ‘Children’s and youth Worker Training Evening’ on 5th June.
Children who may have had a difficult start in life don’t always follow the normal patterns when it comes to development. Part of our responsibility as churches is to make church life welcoming, accessible, safe and beneficial for everyone. With this in mind we want to be better equipped in the area of children’s and youth work in relation to adoption and fostering. You may not have fostered or adopted children in your groups yet, but this would be a great way of preparing your church to be ready to welcome them!
There are a couple of other things that we’d really encourage commission Churches to take a lead in:
Firstly, you could become a ‘Home for Good’ church. To find out more about what this means, get on to the Home for Good website, and have a look. Just making a few changes to the way we sometimes do things, can make the church more supportive of families and individuals involved in fostering and adoption. There are some fantastic resources available to use.
Secondly, you could have someone in the church who could become a ‘Home for Good Champion’. Once again there is information on the website, but we’d love to develop a nationwide network of individuals who will serve churches well by keeping the needs of the most vulnerable in society regularly in our thoughts and prayers.
Such small things really do change lives. Just this week I was at one of our church sites, and a beautiful newly adopted girl was snuggling into her mum during the worship, and was clearly feeling very much at home in church. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to see that multiplied in every Commission Church?
Chris & Jo Kilby
Life Church, Southampton.
Home for Good, Southampton.