The Difference We Made: Impact Report, 2015/16

Our impact report sets out the positive changes we’ve made to the lives of vulnerable children across the UK

We worked with over 18,000 vulnerable children and young people last year

Our campaign wins will bring life-changing support to more than 5.6 million

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We’re tremendously proud of our achievements over the past year. We’re continuing to make a difference to millions of children in the UK who would otherwise have nowhere else to turn.

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We are a national charity that runs local services, helping children and young people when they are at their most vulnerable, and have nowhere left to turn.

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A message from our Chief Executive, Matthew Reed

At The Children’s Society we work towards a country where children are free from disadvantage

Our Chief Executive, Matthew Reed

In this year’s impact report we have focussed the evaluation of our work on our five core thematic areas:

1. Young people affected by child sexual exploitation
2. Mental and emotional health
3. Going missing
4. Substance misuse
5. Young people who are affected by issues related to being in care or transitioning out of care

So often the issues faced by young people are exacerbated by wider issues in society, and so we also work with young people indirectly through our acclaimed public policy and campaigning work. This year, our campaigns to tackle problem debt, to extend the Warm Home Discount, and to put statutory guidance in place for the cost of school uniforms have all helped change the lives of millions of young people. And this year for the first time we campaigned locally, when our Handle with Care campaign successfully targeted local authorities in Greater Manchester to improve the support they give young people in the care system who get placed out of their local area.

Many of our services are now working with young people who are experiencing some of the most complex problems we see in society; despite the challenges of this work I am encouraged that we are consistently delivering positive outcomes, which is good news for these young people and for wider society. The case studies in this report show that our work changes lives, and it is these real life stories and successes that inspire my colleagues and I to want to do more.

I hope you enjoy learning about our work helping millions of children, and we look forward to doing even more good work together in the future.

Our achievements

two boys

We set out five key goals for 2015/16, focussing on the difference we were aiming to make to children’s lives.


Supporting over 18,000 children and young people across our services 

Our goal: Work with more than 8,000 young people living with one or more of our five priority themes. 

In 2015/16 we worked with 5,055 children and young people in our priority themes. This figure falls slightly short of our intended goal and we are strengthening our efforts to reach those most vulnerable and are aiming to reach 10,000 next year as a result of continued refocussing of our services.

In total, we supported over 18,000 children and young people across our services. 


we contributed to 5.6 million positive changes in children and young people's lives


Our goal: Deliver more than 1 million positive changes to children’s lives through our campaigning and policy work. 

In 2015/16 our campaigning and policy work brought about 27 national and local policy changes and these contributed to over 5.6 million positive changes to children’s lives 


73% of young people who experienced positive changes across key areas of their lives


Our goal: Maintain the high proportion of ourusers who experience positive change through our services. 

In 2014/15, 73% of the families, children, and young people who were assessed, experienced positive change. In 2015/16 we continued our planned exit from children’s centres to focus on vulnerable young people. During this period of transition we maintained our 73% ofusers who experienced positive change. 


The number of new financial supporters and support actions


Our goal: Increase the number of donation and new supporter actions to 80,000. 

The total number of our new financial supporters and number of supporter actions increased to 70,000. We fell short of our target for new financial supporters mainly due to the changes in the external fundraising environment and adverse media publicity and scrutiny which affected the whole sector during the year. Despite the tough fundraising year, we recruited more financial supporters than we did in the previous year. 


9817 volunteers supporting us in communities across the UK 

Our goal: Increase the number of volunteers mobilised in our communities to 9,500. 

In 2015/16 we had 9,817 volunteers supporting us in communities across the UK. This is a 9% increase on the 9,000 people who supported us last year and demonstrates strong growth in our volunteer base. 


£16.7 million in net unrestricted income raised

Our goal: Grow our net unrestricted income from fundraising activities

Despite the challenging external fundraising environment and the increased regulatory demands, net income from donations and legacies increased slightly from £16.5m to £16.7m in the year.


Additional achievements

In addition, we were also able to:

Win £13.7 million of new contracts – this figure includes all closed won opportunities related to projected notification date within the financial year. It includes both new and extended contracts.

Sustain our media presence with a media reach of 758 million, and a total media value equivalent of £23 million.

Engage senior church leaders to undertake 64 actions that supported our influencing work.

On average, engage over 400 young people a month in lobbying, campaigning and organisational decision making.

Our direct work with children and young people

Through our network of targeted services and children’s centres, we worked with over 18,000 children and young people last year, bringing positive changes to vulnerable children up and down the country.

18,164 – the number of children and young people we worked with.7,480 – the number of children and young people we worked with in our youth at risk services.102 – the number of youth at risk services we ran last year.135 - total regional contracts73% – the percentage of young people we assessed who experienced positive change.£31,146,348 - total regional contract value


Our impact, mapped

Click on a region to find out more about our work with children and young people.


Total number of young people supported: 8,839
Services run: 42
Policy changes: 21

This year, The Children’s Society in the North has continued improving the lives of thousands more children in the region. We are truly proud of the role our services have played in giving young people in our area happier, healthier and safer childhoods.


Total number of young people supported: 1,296
Total number of services: 15
Policy changes: 22

The Children’s Society in the Midlands had a strong year in 2015/16. We consolidated existing services for vulnerable young people, attracted new and important investment into our services, and expanded and enhanced the role that volunteers and supporters play in directly improving the lives of children and young people in the Midlands.

London and the East

Total number of young people supported: 1,649
Total number of services: 31
Policy changes: 21

The Children’s Society in London and the East is dedicated to improving the lives of all children living in the area, and this year we have brought more positive change to thousands of young people who urgently needed us to be there for them.

South and the South West

Total number of young people supported: 6,380
Total number of services: 18
Policy changes: 20

This year The Children’s Society in the South and South West has positively changed the lives of many children. Our children centres and youth at risk services continue to provide class-leading support for children, young people and families dealing with a range of serious and complex issues, and in the past year we have launched several new services that have brought benefits for young people across the region.

Sophie's story


‘I was extremely lucky to find The Children’s Society at the time I did. I hate to think of it, but I’d be dead. I was just on the brink of becoming someone who no one could have saved me from.’

Just after her 16th birthday and with difficulties at home, Sophie started going missing and rarely went to school.  She met a gang who got her to steal for them, and after police found Sophie with a man they were arresting on suspicion of sexually assaulting women, she was referred to The Children’s Society.

Sophie worked with one of our workers who helped her to understand the risks and dangers of going missing. Soon Sophie started going back to school and achieved good grades in her GCSEs.

She is now attending sixth-form college and has stopped going missing from home. Sophie’s worker remains in contact with her in case she ever needs further support.

John's story

'Mum says that things are going our way for once and The Children's Society can take a lot of credit for that'

John and his mum had experienced some really tough times together since he was little. He loves being close to his mum, but found it hard to make friends at school and his behaviour got him into a lot of trouble.

John and his mum approached The Children’s Society for help, and John started attending group work where he made new friends and used his creative talents to produce some fantastic pieces of artwork. John made amazing improvements both in and out of school. The need for school meetings has decreased and John’s friendship groups are now much wider. With The Children’s Society’s help, John’s no longer gets angry like he used to, and things are now on the up for him and his mum.


Our campaigns and policy work

Our ambitious campaigning is grounded in strong practice. 

Through our direct services we learn more about the complexity of the issues that affect children and young people. This learning influences our campaigning and policy work nationally and locally.

We run campaigns to tackle the deeply engrained issues children face, influence Government policy and change prevailing attitudes to the most vulnerable in our society.

This year our campaigning and policy work contributed to:

  • Five of the country’s leading energy companies changing their practices to improve life for children in families with problem debt.

  • The Government reconsidering plans to cut tax credits which would have been a huge blow to low income families already struggling to make ends meet.

  • An extension of the Warm Home Discount on energy bills through to 2020, which will benefit up to 1.6 million children.

  • Guidance on school uniform costs being made legally binding, which could affect up to 1.2 million children.


Thank you for all that you do

Our Chief Executive, Matthew Reed

We would not have been able to do all we have for young people without our dedicated supporters, the thousands of people who we rely on to work with us through our campaigning, fundraising, and volunteering to help change children’s lives.

I would like to thank each one of our supporters, along with our many funding and implementation partners across the country, for working so hard to be part of everything we have achieved for young people this year. I am very proud of you, our work and the organisation we are building together.

Finally, I’d like to thank the children and young people it is our privilege to work both with and for. Their stories of resilience and tenacity continue to inspire me, and remind everyone at The Children’s Society how important it is that we do all that we can to ensure children and young people are given the opportunity for a brighter future.

Thank you.

Will you support vulnerable children and young people?

We are a national charity that runs local services, helping children and young people when they are at their most vulnerable, and have nowhere left to turn.

We also campaign for changes to laws affecting children and young people, to stop the mistakes of the past being repeated in the future.