A big hello to Iris House hospice

We’d like to welcome the South African children’s charity Iris House Children’s Hospice to the Keeping Children Safe members’ network!

Iris House provides a place where children are encouraged to reach their full potential, however limited that may be. Using play therapy, music therapy, equine therapy, adapted surfing and fun-filled activity days. Their care service is based around the needs of the whole family, so as well as caring for the child and young person, they plan activities for siblings and support for parents.

To get to know them a bit more we asked a few questions about themselves:

What made you decide to join KCS as a member?

Having worked in the UK with special needs children, I learnt about your organisation [KCS]. On my return to SA, and after founding Iris House Children’s Hospice, it was always a goal to become a registered child protection agency. Now that this has become a reality, I could think of no better organisation to align ourselves with. Your experience in child safeguarding is definitely something we need.

What is your key driver in your ambition to implement child safeguarding?

The situation in South Africa is dire, we have an extremely poor safety/foster parent system, which sees many children slip through the cracks. In the case of special needs children, they are rarely placed in a loving home. We find them in cluster homes receiving below standard care. Or they simply are not removed from abusive situations as the social workers can’t find a placement for them. It is our aim to train safety and foster parents to enable them to be able to provide care to special needs children, thereby finding loving homes for these children at risk.

Where do you think your organisation will be regarding child safeguarding in a year?

We have a goal of training 80 safety/ foster parents by April 2021.

Are there any images of your work/organisation you would like to share?

We have just started with a new project, though COVID-19 has effected the rollout. We were actively involved in child protection week, and have also completed our very first training session with potential safety/foster parents which took place in June. Here is the link to our Child Protection Week album on Facebook.

What message do you want to tell your staff, donors and the wider world?

Iris House has a zero-tolerance policy. The safety of special needs children at home and in the community is not a luxury it is a right. Special Needs children are even more vulnerable than a typical child, in that they are often wheelchair-bound and or non-verbal. This makes them a target to predators, often within their own families. It is our goal to become a voice for these most vulnerable children, to ensure they are timeously removed from danger, that their abusers are punished, and most importantly that they are placed in caring loving homes not cluster facilities.

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