The Infant Trust

The association with Infant Trust (IT) has been one of BFT's the most dramatic success stories . Thanks in no small part to the £370,000 that BFT invested, it has been able to train over 2,200 crèche workers, identified for help over 3,500 small children who were being abused, and positively impacted on the lives of over half a million small children plus countless other families and communities in South Africa.

The Infant Trust’s long-term plan was to work towards merger or dissolution by March 2015 – ten years after it started as a formal charity; the only proviso against this was if it unexpectedly accessed a major donor stream to take us forward for a further 5 years; we have always known this is unlikely, the Infant The Trust also knew by 2013/14 which of its programmes had the most impact on helping to protect children and what it could transfer.

It had long been clear that the Caring for Crèches [C4C] programme, training leaders and care-givers of the informal crèches, was extremely successful, both for the learners and for many thousands of children.  The feedback not just from Infant Trust’s partners and from external, objective evaluation was that the C4C programme is hugely influential in many ways more than anticipated; it gives care-givers an enormous boost to their knowledge and their self-esteem; this in turn translates to children being fed more nutritional food, having age-related activities, having a watchful eye kept on their health and issues to do with domestic and personal abuse being picked up.  As a result more communities seem to be caring for their children collectively and more effectively – this also positively affects older children and parents, although the endemic problems of alcohol abuse, drugs, poverty and violent communities can’t be resolved by a small crèche-based programme.

The Trust’s research is now complete and has thrown up some very interesting explanations about why perpetrators abuse small children and it is hoped that these research findings will influence policy and planning. Some of the Trust’s other programmes are now concluded but, apart from the ongoing C4C  programmes, it continues to support a great little charity that delivers puppet shows for children in crèches and primary schools helping children to learn to protect themselves against abuse and bullying; It also continues to support a small mental health charity that provides therapy and crisis intervention for hundreds of abused and damaged women, men and children within a population of about 2 million people, where violence and abuse is rampant. Through them the Trust also continue to supplement the stipend of Happy, the football coach who does so much to keep boys off the streets.

From our regular evaluation and feedback we now know that over the last 9 years we have had an impact through all our programmes on the lives of at least 500,000 children and, like many programmes in Africa, there will always be more work to be done and more children needing help. Lesly Rudd expects to undertake two more visits in 2015/16 to ensure the Trust’s projects are online and on-track. Whilst this all delays, for a further 12 months, the transfer of work to another agency Lesley feels it is important to use the funds for the programmes it was intended, and to maintain levels of scrutiny on the delivery of excellence.

Chai Patel said “This final report is so uplifting and inspiring. It has been BFT’s privilege to support the passion and humanity of a visionary in Lesley Rudd. She has made an incredible difference and shone a light in the murky and dark corners of human existence and brought dignity, nurture and support and empowered many thousand people help hundreds of thousands of children, a staggering achievement!