Spurgeons acquires school counselling and parental support charity Fegans
Fegans, a school counselling and parenting support charity based in the South East of England, will transfer into Spurgeons Children’s Charity (Spurgeons) on 1 July 2021. Inspired by the Christian faith, Spurgeons, like Fegans, has built a reputation of excellence over the last 150 years working with children and young people. The goal of the acquisition is to build on that reputation as part of Spurgeons long-term strategy — giving the growing number of children in the UK, made vulnerable through challenging circumstances,1 a better home-life so they can flourish and fulfill their potential.
After over a year of prayer and due diligence work, the boards and executive teams of both charities concluded that together, they can act as a greater force for good, with a shared vision, mission and faith. Spurgeons acquisition of Fegans will build on the charity’s current services that support parents, whilst enabling them to begin providing counselling for children through schools.
For both charities, the acquisition provides long-term sustainability and more potential for growth. Together as one charity, Spurgeons, which now includes the services and staff of Fegans, aims to help transform the lives of children and families facing significant challenges — particularly in the wake of lockdown. This will be achieved through an increased geographical footprint, interrelated services, shared expertise and a strong infrastructure. For example, children supported by Spurgeons prison-based family support services can now also be referred to school counselling to grow support for families, and vice versa.
Spurgeons Chief Executive, Ross Hendry, says, “Integral to Fegans transferring into Spurgeons is a shared ambition to model and reflect our Christian faith through the work we do with children and families. Spurgeons has been planning its long-term future for some time and we’re delighted to welcome Fegans into Spurgeons. We share a faith-based heritage and ethos, as well as an ambition to support vulnerable children to have a home-life where they find the love, peace and safety that enables them to flourish. We also both value partnerships with churches as an integral part of who we are and how we want to work.
“The children we seek to help often face difficulties because of their families’ circumstances that are beyond their control and too difficult to manage alone. The counselling and support that Spurgeons and Fegans bring can help children better deal with mental health challenges that might arise from these challenging circumstances.
“There are several areas where we feel it is important that Spurgeons respond to children and young peoples’ needs by developing services that can reach and support them. To that end, the acquisition offers immense potential to be able to build on the work of both charities. Fegans school-based interventions and services will widen Spurgeons service base — with the aim of reaching more children to support them in their home-life — and diversify our income sources.”
Ian Soars, Fegans Chief Executive, says, “Fegans will continue to care for children but, as part of Spurgeons, our capacity to reach many more children is unparalleled. Together, we can make a greater impact on a greater need, as we sustainably grow our long-term support for these children and families.”
Fegans, with head offices in Tunbridge Wells, has a total income of around £1 million a year and approximately 100 employees — the majority of whom work part time and during term time only — and 20 volunteers. Spurgeons will continue all of Fegans current work and every member of staff will be transferring their employment to Spurgeons under TUPE (Transfer of Undertakings Protection of Employment). Spurgeons runs around 50 projects across the country with over 400 employees and 150 volunteers. They have contact with over 30,000 children and adults every year.
There will be minimal changes resulting from the acquisition for most staff, as both charities prioritise continuity of the services provided in order to minimise disruptions, for both colleagues and the children and families they serve, as far as possible.
Ian Soars, Fegans current CEO, will join the senior executive team of Spurgeons, retaining responsibility for Fegans services within Spurgeons and reporting into Ross Hendry.
While Fegans will no longer function as an independent charity, Spurgeons is committed to keeping the Fegans name linked to the work of supporting children and young people. How the Fegans name might be used in the future and where, will be informed by a review later this year. It has also been agreed that two of Fegans five trustees will join the Spurgeons Board of Trustees.
Spurgeons and Fegans have a similar heritage. Both charities started children’s orphanages around 150 years ago as an outworking of their Christian faith. Fegans is named after James Fegans who started children’s orphanages in 1870, a couple of years after Charles Spurgeon did the same just down the road – they may well have been acquaintances. Today, Fegans provides qualified counselling to vulnerable children, parenting to struggling families and own two preschools that both operate as family hubs in Kent, Sussex, South London and Oxford
To learn more or partner with Spurgeons Children’s Charity to give the growing number of vulnerable children and young people a home life that is loving, peaceful and safe, go to www.spurgeons.org or www.fegans.spurgeons.org and visit @SpurgeonsUK on social media.
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Notes to editors:
1 Children’s Commissioner:
- Childhood Vulnerability in 2019 report shows there are over 2 million children in England living in families with substantial complex needs, and that of these 1.6 million children have no established, recognised form of additional support. In addition, there are multiple other forms of vulnerability, risk and need.
- Child poverty: The crisis we can’t ignore report reveals 107% increase in the number of emergency food parcels given to children by the Trussell Trust in April 2020 compared to April 2019. The report reveals that even before Covid, levels of child poverty in England were getting higher, just as the outcomes for children growing up in poverty are getting worse. The Covid crisis has shone a light on the realities this translates to: children going hungry and families – many of them working – relying on charity and living week to week. The strains on family life and on children are enormous and the impact of children’s development and life chances is significant.
About Spurgeons Children’s Charity
Spurgeons is a Christian children’s charity founded in 1867 and runs 50 services/projects in 22 Local Authority areas across England (Midlands, East, West, South and London). With more than 400 staff, 150 volunteers and thousands of supporters, Spurgeons deliver a range of support services, including:
- Health and wellbeing for Early Years
- Children’s centres
- Domestic violence/abuse
- Young carers
- Prisoner family services
- Specialist support for girls in gangs
- School counselling and support (through Fegans services)
- Parenting courses and support (including online provision)
Spurgeons was founded in 1867 by one of the most well-known public figures of the day – a Baptist preacher called Charles Haddon Spurgeon. He founded an orphanage in Stockwell, south London. The Spurgeons Home moved first to Surrey and then to Kent after the war, but closed in the late 1970’s.
Since then, Spurgeons has supported vulnerable children and families through many different types of work across the UK. Today, the charity has contact with around 30,000 children and adults, whilst working more intensively with over 3,000 children and young people.
Over the last financial year during Covid-19 and lockdown, 783 children were identified in safeguarding incidents Spurgeons responded to. 86% of children whose outcomes were measured with an evidence-based measuring tool showed positive progress.
Spurgeons services include children centres and family hubs, prison-based family support, services to support young carers, families affected by domestic abuse and to girls and young woman in, or at risk of, joining gangs. They also offer parenting courses and support and more recently school counselling and support through the services of Fegans, which transferred into Spurgeons in 1 July 2021.
Spurgeons kept all their services open during the pandemic, adapting to ensure they maintained contact with vulnerable children and families.