Our background

Big Brothers Big Sisters UK is built in the footprints of Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, which has been operating for over 100 years, and is the largest mentoring programme in the world. Big Brothers Big Sisters is also an international network, including mentoring organisations in Australia, Canada, Ireland, Netherlands, Israel and New Zealand.

Large-scale international research shows a quality mentoring relationship can have a positive impact on a child's life:

We know a caring, adult relationship can make a real difference, especially to a child facing adversity. 

"The key findings from this research is that youth mentoring programmes work. Such programmes can improve outcomes across academic, behavioural, emotional and social areas of young people's lives."

What Makes for Effective Youth Mentoring Programmes, Nesta, Manchester Metropolitan Universty, 2020

More than ever are children's social care services under pressure. The demand for children's services has risen dramatically: 

  • The number of child protection enquiries has increased 139% in 10 years - from 84,100 in 2008/9 to 201,170 in 2018/19.
  • An average of 88 children are now coming into care every day. The total number of looked after children reached a new high of 75,420 in 2017/18 - the biggest annual rise of children in care in eight years.
  • In 2018/19, councils across England were forced to spend £770 million more on children's social care than they had budgeted for.

"We need an army of volunteers for our vulnerable kids - people who are able to help social services and schools to reach out to children and families, check in on what is going on, support struggling families and make these invisible children visible again."

Children's Commission for England, 2020

Big Brothers Big Sisters UK first started in 2017, when a small pilot was set up in Oxfordshire. BBBS Oxfordshire is now a successful partnership with Oxfordshire Children's Services and the Oxford Hub, a social action charity.