Sir Tony joined Action for Children in March 2014 as chief executive. He is also a non-executive director at the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). Before joining Action for Children, Tony was Chief Executive of Groundwork UK
Today, Action for Children is calling for government to urgently put in place three critical processes to support young parents across England and give them the best chance of finding well-paid employment.
Many of these children would normally get at least one decent meal a day while at school but hunger doesn't take a holiday when schools do. And in the absence of those free school meals, children have been found to be living on a diet of crisps alone, making them vulnerable to malnutrition.
Moving from home to home can really affect a child's social skills, educational outcomes and employment prospects - impacting on their mental health and exacerbating any existing behavioural and emotional issues. We know first-hand the challenges these young people face, they have often experienced the worst in life, which means it can take several moves before they find the right foster carer to meet their specific needs.
In January, David Cameron spoke about children's early years and the role of parents, calling it "the most important job we'll ever have". He took some flak for suggesting that parents deserve more support than we currently give them, but he was right. Focusing the Government's passion for improving life chances into a national programme to improve our children's development should be an open goal for the Prime Minister. I don't want him to hesitate and fluff his chance.
In a perfect world, we wouldn't need charities. I firmly believe that charities should aim to solve the problem they were set up to solve and then cease to exist. But until that happens I also firmly believe that charities have a hugely important role to play in our society.
I've been fortunate enough to never have to experience the fear of not knowing where I am going to sleep each night, I had a safe, secure and loving childhood and more importantly somewhere that I could always call home. Unfortunately, today, not every child can say the same.
All children face issues growing up, but for many, like those we support, there are additional and much tougher challenges, putting extra strain on their emotional wellbeing. They have to cope with difficult and often traumatic family problems, many are living in or soon to leave the care system to fend for themselves and others experience the impact of poor parental health or substance misuse.
Action for Children surveyed over 2,000 parents and found that one in four don't think that their kids will progress into the job that they want due to a lack of skills and qualifications. With young people having more opportunities than ever to gain skills and qualifications to fulfil their goals, I was shocked to hear this.
This week marks the latest campaign highlighting the need for more foster carers to come forward to provide supportive and loving homes to the thousands of children in the UK who have often experienced the worst in life.
Every parent knows that hectic schedules juggling work, school, after school sports and playdates can limit quality family time. Even when we do have free time at home, with so much centred on our smart phones, televisions and tablets, parents and children can easily pass like ships in the night.
Christmas is a special time for many families, when happy memories are forged and everyone comes together. Parents love to see their children's excitement on Christmas morning as they open presents under the tree. But living up to this vision can put parents under huge financial pressure as they struggle to find money to spend on gifts and a celebration.
f you are a parent who is wondering how you can develop or improve the relationship with your young child, don't feel like you have to face this task alone. Children's centres are there to help all parents and their children, and who need anything from a place to meet others, routine advice or more significant help.
The keys to our success are our amazing foster carers. They do a fantastic job providing the love, care and support needed by children and young people who have too often had a very tough life. The stability those foster carers provide can make a huge difference to the futures of the children they support, in so many ways: in education, health, career, family life.
For parents who don't have a social network it can be daunting to build one. They may have moved for work, or they may be estranged from their family. Loneliness can knock people's confidence and send them into a deepening cycle in which it becomes harder to make friends.
Too many young people struggle to live up to their potential because of the situation they were born into. The government didn't create this problem, but some of the changes introduced in their first 100 days will make it harder to overcome.
Child neglect has been staring us in the face for too long. Headlines relate the tragic stories of children who grow up shockingly deprived and, in extreme cases, die because of neglect. These children not only lack basic essentials like nutritious food and adequate clothing, they also lack the love, support and warmth that every youngster needs to thrive.
The Government needs to put children and young people at the heart of its policy-making and consider how it is going to meet all of their needs. Giving all young people a fair chance to achieve their potential means recognising that some will need more help than others.
Tens of thousands of social workers throughout the UK devote their lives to helping children out of desperate and abusive situations. To get to the root of what could help more families, we asked these professionals about the pressures they face.
11/03/2015 12:11 GMT
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