THE BLOG

A Humbling and Inspirational 12 Months

07/05/2015 17:39 BST | Updated 07/05/2016 10:59 BST

It's a year since I arrived at Barnardo's and I can honestly say I feel very humbled to be chief executive of this great charity. It's been a challenging year for sure but also a hugely rewarding one.

Soon after I arrived I led a Barnardo's campaign to help children affected by parental imprisonment. The campaign called for a national action plan to help this neglected group of children, because government and services don't record or even ask about them.

I was honoured to share a platform with Cherie Booth QC, Professor Adele Jones and our very own Laura Tranter. Ensuring that we identify these children at the earliest possible stage is vital so they are not overlooked and can get the support they need.

In September our 'Support the Unsupported' campaign raised awareness of Barnardo's great work. Hundreds of people posted their child's achievement to 'The Nation's Fridge Door' helping to spread the word about the vulnerable children who need our support.

Like the rest of the country I've watched with horror at the seemingly never-ending stream of child sex abuse scandals. Barnardo's took a strong line as the national inquiry into these crimes floundered. It is welcome that the inquiry finally appears to be on a stable footing. But it must keep moving forward- survivors of this terrible abuse must have their voices heard.

What makes Barnardo's unique is the incredible, direct work it does with some of the most vulnerable children in the UK. I've had the privilege to see this work first-hand at our services and, believe me, it is truly humbling.

Whether it's supporting sexually exploited and at-risk children to recover from the abuse they have suffered, or helping a young mum learn how to take care of her baby; the work Barnardo's staff do, day in day out, is inspiring.

I remember distinctly a visit to one of our children's centres in Cardiff. There I met a two-year-old boy who was playing in a corner with his Barnardo's care worker. The child had been born without an arm and a leg as a result of a serious illness suffered by his mother during pregnancy in her native Sudan. Our brilliant care worker was bringing this boy to the centre three times a week, providing valuable respite for his mother. The boy's silent but adoring glances towards his care worker spoke volumes.

And I think that's the biggest thing about working at Barnardo's. I've spoken here about the set piece events I've presided over during my time with the charity, and it's all been important. But all of that pales in comparison to the amazing front-line work Barnardo's staff do to bring hope and joy to some of the country's most deprived children and their families.

That's why I'm so proud to lead this great charity and the passion and dedication of our staff drives me, every single day. At some point during a quiet moment I will stop and reflect further on the last 12 months but there is not time to slow down. Our work is never done and I remain incredibly focused and excited about what we can achieve over the next year and beyond.