“We believe that what our predecessors began, we must take forward for there can be no doubt about the need…We pray that we may be as responsive, imaginative and tenacious as those who have brought us thus far.”
Winifred Stone OBE, Chair of Welcare (1994)
Welcare serves the whole of the Diocese of Southwark and the London Borough of Bromley, parts of which are in the Diocese of Rochester. We also provide services in the Hampton Deanery via our Richmond centre, which is within the Diocese of London.
The Diocese of Southwark encompasses urban South London, which includes a huge variety of ethnicities, socio-economic and cultural backgrounds, with parishes stretching into East Surrey. It is one of the most multicultural and diverse dioceses in England. For more than 1,000 years the area covered by the present Diocese belonged to the vast Diocese of Winchester. In 1877 the area was added to the Diocese of Rochester and it was in 1894 that the Bishop of Rochester, Randall Davidson, and his wife launched the Diocesan Association for the Care of Friendless Girls, although the outreach work with unmarried mothers at a local level had started before that.
In 1905, the Diocese of Southwark was created to include the whole of the county of London south of the Thames and the Parliamentary divisions of East and Mid Surrey. In 1914 the organisation became the Southwark Diocesan Association for Prevention and Rescue Work to avoid confusion with the Girls’ Friendly Society and to bring the organisation into line with other diocesan societies doing similar work. A major reorganisation of the local associations took place in 1965 to bring them in line with the new London Boroughs. In 1970 the name Southwark Diocesan Council for Wel-Care was adopted, later shortened to Southwark Diocesan Welcare
The nature of the work of Welcare has changed considerably over the years. By 2006, twelve independent local Welcare associations had merged to form a larger charity capable of tendering for contracts to deliver local services for families and children, focusing on areas of work that voluntary organisations could deliver more effectively than statutory services. It is Southwark Diocesan Welcare which continues the work in South London and East Surrey.
Throughout the decades our role has progressed and developed to ensure we are reflecting the needs of the communities where we work. As the needs of troubled children and families in London have transformed, so too has the way we respond to those needs. We have moved away from mother and baby homes to focus on preventative work and life skills development, doing everything we can to keep families together. The work of Welcare continues to evolve in 2018, as we establish our Child and Family Support Service in Greenwich, extend our support work with families who have children up to the age of 13, and roll out our group work, including the domestic abuse recovery and prevention programme, MySpace, and the flexible parenting programme, Strengthening Families, Strengthening Communities.