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Inspired Series: Making families with Lucy Buck

Child Drawing

Child’s i has achieved some amazing things since its inception and is helping to transform perceptions of how orphaned children should be cared for in Uganda. Inspired Series caught up with the charity’s founder and CEO Lucy Buck to find out more and ask about her recent trip to Uganda.

Who are Child’s i Foundation?

Child’s i Foundation believe passionately that every child deserves to grow up in a family. We have a project in Uganda which helps place children in orphanages back into their families and if this is not possible we find them new families.

How did the charity come about?

I started the charity after volunteering in a baby orphanage in Uganda. I realised that the children could be in families so established Child’s i Foundation to work with the government to prove that children do not need to be placed in orphanages. Over the past seven years, we have grown to a workforce of 92 passionate Ugandans who work across five districts to safely reintegrate children back into families. Over the years we have set up foster care, domestic adoption, training and reintegration, set up a National Panel and ran the Ugandans Adopt campaign to help promote and recruit families for abandoned children. We also train social workers to ensure children can be safely placed in families and communities – and have a communications team to change hearts and minds. The greatest challenge we face is people think orphanages are the solution. They are not – they are damaging and unnecessary and our mission is to consign orphanages to the history books.

Tell us about your recent trip to Uganda? 

It was epic! I went out to the project last month and we presented at a Commonwealth event in front of the First Lady of Uganda sharing our project. We also had a film crew filming our project for Bloomberg. But the highlight of my trip was seeing Joy reunited with her family from an orphanage. Three years ago, the grandmother said goodnight to her daughter, Joy’s mother, who tragically never woke up again. The grandmother then had to place her granddaughter in an orphanage. I went with the social work team and returned Joy to her family and her grandmother was over the moon, emotionally sharing with us that she felt a piece of her daughter had been returned. Thanks to our supporters many children are reunited with their families and that’s why I think our tagline is so perfect – we truly make families, not orphans.

What are your ambitions for the future?

Well – we’ve just this year kicked-off a very ambitious five-year strategy to create the conditions for Uganda to commit to no orphanages. It’s a huge undertaking as there are 50,000 children in over 800 orphanages, but over the next five years we want to show that it is possible to build a system of foster care and family support to eliminate the need for orphanages. This also involves building a cadre of social workers and working with the government to change policy. An important aspect is working with international donors because we can’t do this without them supporting the costs to transition children from orphanages into families and help the orphanages themselves transition into a service which will support families. We are currently working with an orphanage that houses 65 children that is changing into a community hub to support over 2,000 children in families.

What role can the property industry play in helping Child’s i Foundation?

What I have seen is lots of people like to support the building of orphanages because they are bricks and mortar and it looks like your money is being well spent. But there is a ‘big but’. Most of the children in orphanages have families and a much better investment is to provide services to support children in families instead of orphanages, which unintentionally pull children away from their families. It’s the soft power that is critical – investment in social workers to ensure children are safe and repurposing orphanages into community centres to address the reason why families place their children in orphanages in the first place.

How can people get involved?

Join our social networks: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and visit our website. And make a monthly donation like Inspired Homes to help us continue our life changing work – regular donations are truly our lifeline. A gift of £150 pays for an abandoned baby to receive life-saving care in a foster family for a whole month until we find them a permanent family.

If you would like to get more involved and make us your charity of the year or become a Patron, please do contact me directly on lucy@childsifoundation.org. Also, because we run our charity at a very low cost we rely on pro bono support a great deal, so if you have meeting rooms, office space, can help us with printing or IT, we’d love to hear from you. Thank you!

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