17/11/2011 13:38 GMT | Updated 17/01/2012 05:12 GMT

Help for Disadvantaged Youth Means it Doesn't Have to End Like it Began

Now is a tough time to be growing up. Economic turmoil, government cuts and social unrest make this an era of uncertainty for all - but none more so than for young people. That makes it more relevant than ever for people to join us to fight for the future of children across the UK.

At Barnardo's we have a long history of looking after the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children in society, dating back to 1867 when Dr Thomas Barnardo first set up the Ragged School to help abused, forgotten and neglected children of east London. Today we are the UK's largest children's charity, working directly with more than 190,000 children, young people and their families every year.

We run more than 800 projects across the UK, and the unrivalled knowledge of our highly skilled project workers is focused on helping those who need us most. Our services include: counselling for children who have been abused; fostering and adoption services; vocational training for young people who struggle in education; support for children who have to look after their parents and siblings who are sick disabled or have drug and alcohol addictions and disability inclusion groups.

But we couldn't do this work to transform children's lives without the support and belief of the British public. We will never take for granted our place in people's hearts and minds, especially in these difficult times when everyone is having to tighten the purse strings.

The money raised by events from the smallest raffle to multi-million pound fundraisers like Children in Need can be life-changing. From the gift of £5, which could pay for a disabled child to attend a sensory session, or £500 which can buy a day of healing therapies for 10 sexually exploited children, the donations we receive help to rebuild lives and brighten futures, creating ripple effect into families, communities - often for generations to come.

We are an ambitious charity and I am proud that our work is broad and brave. Joining us to fight for children's lives can mean more than raising vital funds - it means our supporters adding their voice to our campaign that no child should be ignored.

As well as providing practical and emotional support to children who need us, I believe we also have a duty to shine a light where we see children being failed by the system and bring the plight of those unable to help themselves to the attention of those with the power to help them.

That means campaigning on behalf of the thousands of children who were exploited for sex in the UK last year to urge local and national government do more in our communities to protect children at risk. And it makes taking on the cause of children who risk being written off by society, for example by calling for the age of criminal responsibility to be raised from 10 to 12 and urging more investment in effective ways to stop youth crime.

We have a strong track record of delivering changes to policy and practice that make a genuine impact in children's lives. An example of a recent victory is the government listening to our call to ensure that the most vulnerable are given special support to ensure they enjoy the same life chances as other young people by paying £200 into an ISA for each child in care.

Our newest advertising campaign reminds us that it's never to late to believe in children and change their future. Each and every person who supports us helps ensure that for the vulnerable and disadvantaged children we work with, it doesn't have to end like it began.

Our new TV advert shows that a life doesn't have to end like it began. Watch Life Story and join us to fight for a child's future.