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Celebrating the Children’s Society in the Diocese of Sheffield

Bishop Pete in cathedral

Reverend Alison Cook is a Priest at Christ Church Stannington, and has been commissioned as our Diocesan Ambassador for the Children’s Society.

She says her role will be about being a link between the two:

“It’s about raising the profile of the group beyond just having services, and making people aware of what The Children’s Society do – working with some of the most vulnerable children in society today.”

Founded in 1881 by Sunday School teacher Edward Rudolph, the Children’s Society was formed out of a desire to tackle child poverty. The original aim was the creation of children’s homes as that was the greatest need at the time.

However, Alison says the focus in the present day is very much on preventing exploitation and abuse:

“Fighting against child poverty is still very much a priority, and trying to turn around the decline in happiness amongst school children.

“This position is about being that bridge between the Children’s Society and the church, so that people within the church can find ways of supporting the group.There are also the opportunities to look into going into schools for talks; one of the planned talks is on tackling toxic masculinity and the crisis of mental health. ”

Alison has an extensive background in education, and brings a wealth of experience to the role. She was officially commissioned at a service at Sheffield Cathedral on Sunday 13th November at the same time as the installation of the new College of Canons members:

“I felt a calling to work with children in my late teens and trained to teach, initially as an Infant teacher in York. However, after marrying in 1988 I moved to Jamaica where I taught English and Geography in a secondary boys boarding school, which was a huge change for me. Later I worked in an outdoor centre. After having my own children I moved into childminding and for a couple of years we were foster parents.

“I’ve had a huge range of experiences working with children right across the age span, which I think is fairly unique. This role was suggested to me, and hadn’t been something I’d previously considered doing. However, what drew me to it was the idea of really making a difference to people. I love working with Jane from the Children’s Society, who is great fun!

“It was lovely to have the commissioning and support of the Bishops, and knowing I wasn’t doing this with my own strength; I was saying ‘I will, with the help of God.’”