This Advent calendar, of influential charities you’ve never heard of, appeared in Spears Magazine.
In the run-up to Christmas, Spear’s highlighted four charities which it recommend supporting. You’ve probably never heard of them, and that’s deliberate. This week is the Lucy Faithfull Foundation, which tries to prevent child abuse.
Just like investment opportunities, the best charities aren’t necessarily the ones which make most noise or which come to find you. So in the tradition of Advent calendars, each week this Advent, philanthropy expert Caroline Fiennes will be showcasing one of the best charities you’ve never heard of.
1. The Lucy Faithfull Foundation
As the former Director General of the BBC can tell you, child abuse is bad news.
To reduce it, many organisations work with children, their parents and schools. They may educate children about ‘stranger danger’, and educate parents and teachers about signs to watch for in children and adults. These charities work with ‘the good guys’.
The Lucy Faithfull Foundation also aims to prevent child sexual abuse but, unusually, it also works with the offenders and potential offenders – the bad guys – as well as with victims and non-offending family members.
Working with child abusers is controversial, to say the least, and the foundation sometimes gets a hostile reaction from local press and public. But it’s often essential to getting the abuse to stop. A video by the foundation quotes ‘Steve’, a convicted sex offender who spells out the problem: ‘When I started offending, I really wanted to ask for help. But it was easier to offend than to ask for help’.
The Lucy Faithfull Foundation provides that help, uniquely. It has decent evidence that this work prevents people like ‘Steve’ stealing other childhoods.
Its confidential helpline has seen nearly 50 per cent growth in calls since the Jimmy Savile story broke. Some callers have had what the foundation diplomatically calls ‘inappropriate thoughts or behaviours regarding children’. Previously, those people had dismissed them, but in light of the Jimmy Savile story, they’ve felt prompted to get advice about preventing them.
Victims too have sought the foundation’s support as they’ve started to see that they’re not alone. For example, the NSPCC helpline referred a lady who’d suffered abuse at a hospital where Jimmy Savile worked. Her call to the Lucy Faithfull Foundation was the first time she had felt able to tell her story fully. Another lady got in touch seeking advice on protecting her children from the stepfather who’d abused her as a child. Clearly the growth in calls requires more resources so the foundation needs additional donations just now.
Difficult problems like child abuse rarely yield to easy solutions, or even to the most obvious. But the aim is to solve them somehow, and Lucy Faithfull Foundation makes good progress on this debilitating problem.
The Lucy Faithfull Foundation is a Registered Charity No. 1013025