Powerful new film exposes truths behind orphanage ‘industry’ and urges young people not to volunteer in orphanages

A powerful new documentary, which through a coalition called ReThink Orphanages is supported by organisations such as Save the Children, J.K Rowling’s charity Lumos and Hope and Homes for Children, challenges the concept of ‘caring’ and urges young people not to volunteer in orphanages.

‘The Love You Give’, lifts the lid on the orphanage ‘industry’ to expose how global efforts to move towards new models of care for children are being weakened by a constant supply of Western volunteers, who are unwittingly helping to fund a system that is harmful to children.

The film shows how:

  • Eighty percent of children in orphanages actually have one or more living parent
  • Poverty is the main reason why children are sent to orphanages – often to receive an education
  • Children raised in orphanages experience developmental delays and attachment disorders
  • Young adults leaving institutional care are more likely to become victims of trafficking, exploitation, unemployment and homelessness – and are 500 times more likely to take their own lives
  • Volunteers are left to care for vulnerable children with no qualifications or previous childcare experience

Directed and produced by award-winning documentary filmmaker Will Francome, The Love You Give features the very personal stories of ‘care leavers’ such as Ruth, who reveals how she was told to lie to volunteers, alongside experts who discuss the many negative effects of growing up in an institution. They also suggest ways young people can be part of the solution, such as supporting community initiatives that strengthen families and reduce the barriers that result in children being placed in care.

The Love You Give has been commissioned by global care organisation Better Care Network, which through a coalition called ReThink Orphanages works with leading children’s charities, including Save the Children, J.K Rowling’s charityLumos, Hope and Homes for Children and international volunteering organisations, including VSO and Projects Abroad. The cross-sectoral coalition is working to end the popular practice of orphanage volunteering and channel efforts towards programmes designed to prevent family separation.

There is now a global effort, backed by many of the world’s governments, to move away from institutional models of care, instead focusing on strengthening families and communities. However these care reform efforts are being weakened by the continuing support for orphanages, through funding, volunteering, tourist trips and faith-based mission work.

Says Justine Williams, campaign manager at Better Care Network: “We’ve learned that traditional campaigns and messaging about this issue don’t work, therefore we needed to create a social movement to engage young people in understanding that their good intentions are simply perpetuating the cycle of children needlessly being placed in orphanages. We also want to show how they can be part of the solution to stop this happening.”

The film has been created by and launched in partnership with creative network Livity which specialises in creating youth-focused content and campaigns for clients including Facebook, Netflix and PlayStation. “Thousands of people volunteer in orphanages every year, in the belief that they are making a difference,” says Livity’s Ty Stanton-Jones. “But once you scratch the surface the opposite is true. This campaign is about the children, families and organisations who have the solution.”

A ‘Volunteer Checklist’ on the campaign’s dedicated website, http://www.loveyougive.org/, features things to watch out for if people are thinking about signing up to volunteer, as well as further information, advice and stories of care leavers and former volunteers

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