Historically, churches have played a leading role in establishing, running and funding orphanages around the world. Now Home for Good, a Christian charity that works to find a home for every child in the UK care system, is calling on the UK Church to redirect its efforts to help children grow up in families.
Home for Good’s Founding Director, Krish Kandiah sat down with Steve Coffey, Head of Brand at Hope and Homes for Children, and explained why he’s calling on fellow Christians to change their approach to orphanages. Here, in the first of a four-part series, Krish explains how his own experience of fostering children inspired him to set up Home for Good.
SC: Krish, tell us a bit about who you are, what you do, and what people might know you for.
KK: I’m the founding director of Home for Good, a charity trying to find a home for every child in the UK care system. Home for Good was set up to call the Church across the UK to action. God in the Bible is really clear that He is particularly concerned about vulnerable people. He sometimes talks about the widow and the orphan. Those who are both at the beginning of life, and at the end of life. Those who are particularly vulnerable because there aren’t enough structures around them to care for them. Time and time and time again, that comes up in the Bible. Hopefully, it’s encouraging the Church to take that part of the Bible seriously, particularly vulnerable children.
SC: What has been your personal experience of fostering?
KK: My wife and I had three children in three years. I thought I had contributed to the global population, but my wife thought we had capacity to care for some more children, and encouraged us to become fostering and adoptive parents. I was a little bit resistant at the beginning. But it’s one of the best things that we’ve done as a family. It’s incredibly demanding, but amazingly rewarding to see children who’ve come from a really difficult set of dramatic circumstances to be loved and cared for, and to begin to flourish. Our own personal experience made us think there was something more the Church across the UK could do.
When we first started the charity, there were around 5,000 children waiting for adoption. There was a shortfall of about 9,000 foster families across the UK. Through various networks and connections, we had pretty easy reach to about 15,000 churches. We thought that’s totally achievable, isn’t it? We’re not asking every Christian in the country to adopt or foster, but we are saying if just one new family per church steps up, the rest of the church wraps around them, then we can meet the entire need.
“It’s incredibly demanding, but amazingly rewarding to see children who’ve come from a really difficult set of dramatic circumstances to be loved and cared for, and to begin to flourish. Our own personal experience made us think there was something more the Church across the UK could do.”
SC: And what success do you see?
KK: We’ve been so encouraged that all sorts of people that would never have considered fostering or adoption are stepping forward. It could be a millennial couple in their twenties, not thinking about adoption as Plan C, but Plan A. It could be single people coming forward to adopt and foster. We’ve met people who already have children and are including more children into their family through fostering. It’s been phenomenal, and to see how the Church steps up and offers genuine practical support around them has been wonderful.
SC: Staying with your personal experience at Home for Good, what would you say is the benefit of a child growing up in a foster family? Why fostering?
KK: According to Christian understanding of family, that was God’s intention for where people flourish best. We know that from our own experience. I think in my circumstances, if my wife and I were to die, we wouldn’t want our children to grow up an institution. We’d want maybe my sister or my wife’s sisters to think about taking these children into their families. We recognise that family is one of the most precious and wonderful things that we have in our lives. The idea that children in care don’t have ongoing permanent family relationships, that’s to their detriment. We can see that for young people who live in the care system, and ‘age out’ the other end, the statistics relating to care leavers who don’t have an ongoing family around them are pretty horrific.
We know from our experience, we can see it in the Bible, we can observe it from sociology and the demographics of what’s going on across the nation: family is absolutely essential for flourishing.
“We know from our experience, we can see it in the Bible, we can observe it from sociology and the demographics of what’s going on across the nation: family is absolutely essential for flourishing.”
Read part II of this conversation: Rethinking the relationship
In partnership with Hope and Homes for Children and other global experts, Home for Good have launched the Homecoming project to raise awareness of the global orphanage crisis, and to encourage Christians to transition their support towards family-based alternatives.