The head of a Christian children's charity says the church needs to step in to provide more youth workers to help support children during the school holidays.
Ian Soars from Spurgeons was speaking after the NSPCC advised that children under the age of 12 shouldn't be left at home alone. The charity said it had received over 11000 contacts concerning the issue in the year to March, with a spike over last Summer.
There’s no legal age after which a child can be left at home alone, but it is against the law if it puts them at risk of harm.
Ian Soars has been giving Premier his view:
“It’s not a life or death problem, it’s a developmental problem and a parenting problem and a relational problem. It’s just not right for kids below the age of 12 to be left alone.
“It’s easy to blame parents in this situation, but if you're a working parent, and you've got to make the rent that month, you've got two horrible choices. Do I leave my 10 year old at home or do I put bread on the table? The reality is most of us reluctantly would probably put bread on the table. So I really want to be careful not to lay too much blame. This is an issue not of bad parenting but of poverty.
“For many parents they have to turn up to work and if they don't, they lose their job. And that is a tremendous pressure. Also, if you're trying to scramble money together, just thinking about the season for next year's uniforms., there isn't much out there that's helping families right now. There’s a lot of burdens going on for parents and it's desperately unfair.”
Spurgeons works with over 30,000 families every year and Ian Soars says the church is well-placed to help support parents and children in this area :
“If Elon Musk was head of the church right now, he'd be recruiting 2000 youth workers to provide a solution to kids in the community. Family is what the church is good at. We're good at youth - there are more youth workers employed by the church than any other organisation. This is a gap that we can step into with confidence. I say to the church, in the light of the second command, this is an act of worship. Kids are on the Jericho road at the moment in terms of mental health, in terms of this kind of situation and I just think the church is the perfect solution to this.
“There are so many avenues that are open to us. There’s a massive opportunity for us to step into the gap for our children in our communities.”
In Jesus' time the Jericho-Jerusalem road was notorious for its danger and difficulty and is most renowned for its appearance in the parable of the Good Samaritan.