St Michael’s Fellowship has been helping families for 120 years.
At the beginning of the 20th Century, Agnes Parr had a vision to “to provide shelter, moral guidance and training to single mothers from a good family” and thus St. Michael’s Fellowship was founded…
In 1903 St Michael’s Fellowship was established by Agnes Parr and her wealthy Anglican friends as a place for unwed middle- and upper-class women to have their babies, believing they required a different form of ‘rescue work’.
However, it quickly became clear that it was poorer young women who needed the service. St Michael’s did not believe in adoption and encouraged mothers to maintain contact with their babies.
In the past 120 years services for parents and children have changed hugely. Whilst unmarried mothers are no longer a scandal, parents with vulnerable backgrounds still face challenges receiving the right support to enable them to remain with their children.
What was true in 1903 is true now, children need their parents in their lives. Over 120 years we have achieved many milestones in improving provision for families.
Keeping families together
- 1903 – today helping mothers keep their babies
- 1973 Sue (our current director) starts working for St Michaels Fellowship and with her young family supports young mothers in a residential service that was always over subscribed
- 1991 Parenting assessments are being carried out across the UK by St Michael’s Fellowship and similar organisations. However, the sector is not properly regulated. St Michael’s is instrumental in Family Residential Assessment Centres becoming properly regulated and recognised. Achieved in 2003.
A voice for dads
- 1986 We support a young father in the high court fighting for the right to care for his daughter when the mother was unable to. He wins.
- 2002 St Michael’s Fellowship employs our first Fathers’ Practitioner. The role is funded by private donations and is still not funded by any statutory funding.
- 2019 St Michael’s Fellowship begin the Caring Dads programme for fathers who have been abusive to their partners.
Outreach services to support young families in the community
- 2000 St Michael’s Fellowship sees a need for more early help support for young parents in the community to stop them hitting crisis points. We set up Outreach for mums as one of the Sure Start Trailblazers
- 2001 St Michael’s establishes Groups exclusively for young parents
Holistic support – Securing change and Jigsaw
- 2011 A need for homely contact centres that put children at the heart of the experience – Our Jigsaw Contact Centre opens
- 2019 We launch Securing Change as a pilot programme. Securing Change works with parents following residential assessment to support their parenting and prevent more children being taken into care
We are proud to be at the frontline of helping families but there is still a lot to do.
Agnes wanted to help single mothers to keep their babies and find work to support themselves – a revolutionary idea at the time. We continue her work, developing new services and pioneering ways to help children and families in the twenty-first century. We fought for residential parenting assessment centres to be regulated by Ofsted, as family assessment centres rather than nursing homes. We were very early champions of young fathers and the need to listen to, involve and include them at every stage of their baby’s development.
Today, St. Michael’s maintains an innovative approach and believes in the capacity of parents we work with for positive change. St Michael’s Fellowship is commited to creating oppourtunites for families to evolve and grow.
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