THE Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Revd Steven Croft, has welcomed the Manifesto to Strengthen Families.

In a speech to the House of Lords on Thursday November 2nd, he said:

“My Lords I warmly welcome this report. I like it more each time I read it. It’s very modesty is its virtue. A small number of strategic changes can make an immense difference. Two points:

I commend the vision of a government focussed on supporting families.

The default in our culture is a greater focus on individuals in law and public policy.

Yet we all exist as part of diverse families and networks of relationships: a fundamental insight of Christian tradition. These families are the cornerstone of our well being and the common good.

The proposals in Section A of the report offer a necessary counterweight at the heart of government which pays attention to the deep fabric of our lives. They are more radical than they sound. Let’s do them.

Second, I applaud the encouragement to work with voluntary and private sector partners.

The task of supporting families is much too important to be left to government. But government’s role is vital in setting vision and standards, as a convenor and broker.

The charity PACT was founded by the Diocese of Oxford in 1911. PACT exists to build and strengthen families.

Last year, as part of PACTs work we placed 87 adopted children in families and approved 49 families to adopt. Each extra family approved to adopt adds over £1.1 million in value to society.

2 years ago Oxfordshire County Council had to cut its funding to its 43 Children’s Centres. All but 8 were in danger which would have been an immense loss to local communities. The Council worked with the churches and voluntary sector. There has been a tremendous response. Thanks to the power of working with, 38 will remain open.

Funding to these ventures can be modest but it needs to be consistent. The staccato cycle of new funding followed by funding cuts, new initiatives starting then ending prematurely halts improving outcomes for the very families we seek to support.

My Lords I welcome this report: the new focus, the working with, the modesty and the chance for a new beginning. I hope sincerely the government will find the courage to take this manifesto forward.”

Watch Bishop Steven speaking in the House of Lords

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