Guild chooses its sponsored projects for next 3 years

Kay Keith with Fiona Marks
Kay Keith with Fiona Marks

A charity helping new parents through the tough times after having a baby is one of six organisations which will benefit from hundreds of thousands of pounds raised by the Church of Scotland's Guild. Care for the Family Scotland has been announced as one of the Guild's chosen charities for the next three years. Others who will benefit in Scotland include Street Pastors, and a project to make churches welcoming for people with learning disabilities. Abroad, there's support for tackling Female Genital Mutilation in Kenya, an environmental project in Bolivia and a missionary project in Haiti.

Each of the six projects adopted by the Guild can expect to raise around £100,000 during the 2015-2018 fundraising cycle. As the Church's voluntary organisation, the Guild has more than 22,600 members in 890 groups across Scotland, and enjoys a track record of success, raising more than £670,000 for the projects it adopted during 2012-2015.

The Guild's National Convener, Kay Keith, says Care for the Family, Scotland – like the other five projects—is meeting a very real need. More than half of all new parents who divorce or separate do so within three years of having a child.

"It's a very exhilarating time when you have a new baby, but it's also a time of great change for the family and the beginning of a new life," she said.

"Some couples don't make it and it seems a bit easier today for couples not to stick together. We recognize that a huge part of that is about communication and understanding what is going on. Care for the Family Scotland helps new parents build strong family relationships and stick together through tough times. As an organization that is very much concerned with children and with encouraging and helping and the family unit, we wanted to support this work."

"This is an opportunity, not to just give funding, but also to be part of it," she said. "We will raise funds for all the projects, but we are a service organisation so our members will get very involved as volunteers with the three Scottish projects."

Fiona Marks, Care for the Family's Scottish representative, said The Guild's support for "Let's Stick Together" will help the charity work with thousands of new parents across Scotland.

"Together we literally have an opportunity to change the future for children and families. I'm very excited about the next three years."

"There are 56,000 new babies born in Scotland each year, and if each Guild in Scotland was to tell half a dozen new parents about "Let's Stick Together" that would potentially mean 10,000 families that are stronger across Scotland."

At the heart of the "Let's Stick Together" project are volunteer-led sessions that reach out to couples where they are, including at childbirth classes and church play groups. The sessions teach communication and parenting skills with a focus on helping new mums and dads avoid bad habits and develop the good habits that strengthen love and commitment.

Fiona Marks said sleeplessness, isolation and lack of community support prevent parents from making time for one another. For many the consequence is separation or divorce.

"The cost to the taxpayer of family breakdown is currently estimated at £46 billion a year, and 50% of parents who separate will do so within three years of having a baby," she said.;

"These are the statistics and every time I look at them I'm shocked. This is where "Let's Stick Together's" preventative approach can make a huge difference."

The Guild announced its fundraising priorities Thursday 23 April 2015 at St Cuthbert's Church, Lothian Road Edinburgh.

Find out more about Care for the Family Scotland.

The other five projects chosen for support from The Guild are:

Ascension Trust – Street Pastors

Street Pastors are trained volunteers who go out into our streets in all weathers to listen, care and help people. Ascension Trust does not choose where street pastors go; they respond to communities who identify a need. Street pastors are usually on the street from 10pm – 3am on one or more weekend nights. Just eight years ago, Scotland had no street pastors. Now more than 500 street pastors work across 20 communities from Edinburgh to Tain. Support from The Guild will help train more street pastors to support more communities.

Find out more about Street Pastors.

Feed the Minds – Breaking the Cycle of FGM

More than 125 million girls in 29 countries including Scotland have been subjected to female genital mutilation. This cruel and dangerous practice can cause severe physical and psychological problems. Some girls die after being cut. Typically girls who are cut drop out of school and become mothers, often before they reach age 16. Ending FGM is complicated because it is seen as a rite of passage in some cultures. Feed the Minds, a charity that works to combat poverty and injustice across the Global South is partnering with communities in the Kuria district of Kenya to raise awareness, share knowledge and promote a culture of change. Support from The Guild will help girls to choose their own future and stop the innocent becoming victims.

Find out more about Feed the Minds:

Christian Aid– Caring for Mother Earth in Bolivia

Millions of Bolivians are struggling to survive in what is one of the poorest countries in the world. They live in one of the world's most biodiverse regions, the Amazon rainforest. But as women spend hours every day gathering firewood, just so families can eat, the forest—the lungs of our world— is under threat from deforestation. Christian Aid's "Caring for Mother Project" will help the charity's Bolivian partners to work with more than 700 families, educating them about climate change and supporting them to build and use solar powered ovens. Support from The Guild will help these families eat year round and help protect the rainforest. Find out more about Christian Aid Scotland

Prospects– All Friends Together

Prospects in Scotland's "All Friends Together" project aims to help churches welcome people with learning disabilities and include them in all aspects of church life. People with learning disabilities have many gifts and talents to contribute to church life. As we offer friendship, people will have the confidence to use their gifts. Some churches have started groups that build friendship among people of different abilities. Support from The Guild will give leadership and help more congregations start groups that build communities where people with disabilities feel at home. Find out more about Prospects All Friends Together

Mission International– Haiti Project

Mission International is a Christian missionary charity based in Dundee, that aims to improve the material and spiritual lives of some of the world's poorest people. The Haiti Project is working with a church in the north eastern town of Ouanaminthe. The project will construct a building that will include a school, a community centre and a new church centre. One of the poorest countries in the world Haiti also has one of the lowest literacy rates. The primary school, the community centre and the church will help Haitians reach their full potential and build a better future for themselves.

Find out more about Mission International in Haiti

The projects were chosen to reflect the Guild's theme for 2015-2018: Be Bold Be Strong. Projects are chosen by members and get the final seal of approval from the national committee.