A great charity won the overall prize at the charity awards I attended and judged two weeks ago. The charity, Community Service Volunteers (CSV) won the award for its project Volunteers in Child Protection (ViCP). This does something very simple but very effective. It takes volunteers and pairs them with chaotic and dysfunctional families where children are at risk of harm.

ViCP epitomises the spirit of the Big Society—using voluntary action to tackle entrenched problems, alleviating pressure on public services, and reducing the budget deficit. A volunteer for ViCP costs £2,400 a year to train and support. If a child needs to be placed on the child protection register and a plan drawn up by social services, this alone can cost up to £40,000. If a child needs to be placed into foster care, that costs almost £500 a week. The economics of child protection are horrific, let alone the impact on the child. None of the 400 children helped by ViCP across five local authorities have returned to the child protection register. Scaling up this approach makes eminent sense, as NPC argued in a recent report.

Collecting the award, project head, Sue Gwaspari, called on government to support and grow their work. This is consistent with NPC’s call to Minister for Civil Society, Nick Hurd. Government should indeed grow this work. Private donors should too. Anyone who wants to help children at risk of harm, to curb abuse and support purposeful volunteering which makes a real difference should donate to Volunteers in Child Protection. You can be confident the money will be used well and help a great organisation. What more could you ask.

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