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Welcome to Family Matters

Message from our Chief Executive

As Chief Executive of SOS Children’s Villages UK, I’m keen to gather as much feedback as possible.

Simon Etherington, chief executive of SOS UK

This will help me understand what we currently do well (or less well), and where we may need to focus our efforts in the future.

I’m delighted and encouraged by the response to our supporter survey in May and I would like to thank everyone who took the time to participate and share such helpful insights.

Annual AGM?

In their response to the survey, one of our supporters, Amish Depala, commented “it would be nice if we sponsors can have... a yearly get-together event”. During various discussions, other people have also asked whether we might once again hold an Annual General Meeting (AGM) in the UK.

If we were to re-establish such an event, I certainly wouldn’t want it to be the kind of AGM where attendees are expected to read through long minutes of previous meetings or debate endless minutiae of practices and procedures.

Instead, I would envisage the event would be a forum to outline our key aims and objectives for the coming year and give people the chance to talk with the senior management team and Trustees. It could also provide the opportunity to hear a talk from someone with experience of SOS Children’s Villages, perhaps a former SOS child, SOS mother or Village Director.

Any such event would likely be held in Cambridge, where we can secure a venue free of charge. I appreciate that for many of you, this would not be close enough to make attendance possible. But if you think an SOS AGM is the kind of event you might like us to hold, do let me know by email (info@soschildren.org) or telephone (01223 365589).

Please remember, I am always happy to hear from you if you have matters you’d like to raise.

Growing from children to adults

Another supporter, Mrs E.M Shutter, wrote how she was glad to read “that young people who had left their SOS home are always welcomed back. A base from which to set forth on life's journey is so very important”. In this edition of Family Matters, we have chosen stories reflecting all the ages of SOS children, from their earliest months right through to adulthood. I hope you enjoy reading about the amazing journeys of children like Ernest and Joseph and SOS mothers like Candide.

Many thanks for your generous support and continuing to belong to the world’s largest family.

Simon Etherington OBE

Alan Clarke, winner of the Family Matters survey
Alan completed our Family Matters survey and was the lucky winner of our thank you basket!

Survey thanks

In May, we asked our Family Matters readers and supporters to take part in a survey. More than 700 of you kindly replied, either by post or online.

Your responses have been a great help in understanding how you first heard about our work and what’s most important to you about SOS Children’s Villages. In particular, nearly half of you said your top reason for supporting us is because we ensure children who have no one receive the care of a mother and family. It’s good to know that this unique part of our work is really valued.

So a heartfelt THANK YOU to everyone who completed our survey and to those who gave extra feedback. We had a number of suggestions for how we might improve in the future, which we are currently evaluating. We also received lots of wonderful endorsements, which reassured us we’re on the right track. Here are just a few:

My husband and I are so pleased to support a charity that shows such care and commitment for child welfare throughout the world. Eileen Hannah

I really like the fact that orphan children are put in family groups with a 'mum' or 'auntie' who care for them for many years and also the community work that Villages do. Monica Sadowski

The photos and reports are great to receive especially as I have a son the same age as the little boy I sponsor and I share them with my son and teach him about people who are less well off than us and the need to share with others. Shirine Hanif

I support SOS because I actively searched online for a charity that looks after orphaned children in Africa, and was not a religion-based charity. Keith Dyce

Prize draw winner!

We entered all the names of those who took part in our survey into a prize draw and picked one at random. Alan Clarke was the lucky winner of our ‘thank you’ basket of FairTrade chocolate (see photo above).

Alan and his wife, Christine, have been supporters of SOS Children’s Villages since they were newlyweds. 45 years later and they are still supporting us!

Last year, Alan and Christine were on an Asian tour and managed to visit the SOS Children’s Village at Luang Prabang in Laos. The couple were impressed by the warmth of their reception and how happy the children were at the Village.

Alan feels this experience was a great way to see how their money is helping to give orphaned and abandoned children the best start in life.

Thank you Alan and Christine!