Chief Executive welcome

Fergus FinlayThere are one million children in Ireland - a quarter of our population. It is amazing that so many people can make so little noise. We idealise childhood and talk about cherishing all the children of the nation equally; but one in eight children live in consistent poverty in Ireland today. Barnardos has been shouting this for some time now and repetition doesn't soften the fact that 138,000 children in Ireland are hungry, cold, and corralled in marginalised communities that are products of bad planning and under-investment.

One mum I spoke to described the weekly shop in a manner that any stretched quartermaster would admire. Each day's breakfast, lunch and dinner for the week is meticulously planned and if the kids' friends drop around to the house, the bread and fruit is hidden because every piece has been carefully allocated and can stretch no further.

One in three children in these same disadvantaged areas leave school with severe reading and writing difficulties. One in five children leave school before completing their leaving certificate. And the cycle continues.

Every year Barnardos works directly with over 11,300 children and families across Ireland, who struggle with a range of issues. We help children to make the most of their lives, regardless of what they're up against.

We have a long tradition of service in communities across Ireland and we set ourselves high standards. Our work relies on the generosity of our supporters, the commitment of our staff and on the unshakeable belief that Ireland really can be the best place in the world to be a child.

Fergus Finlay