Fostering Compassion began as the humane education project of another Scottish charity, The Winton Foundation for the Welfare of Bears, which works to raise awareness of the threats facing bears worldwide. Realising the importance of educational work, but having limited funds and resources, Fostering Compassion was launched in 2013 as the Humane Education project of the Foundation, and the brainchild of its founder, Lesley Winton, whose own father was himself brought up in kinship care.
Fostering Compassion was piloted in East Lothian, Scotland, in 2013 with 10 children from 5 different families and it became very clear, very quickly, that there was a desperate need for a project of this nature. As word spread of this unique and groundbreaking programme, the demand for our services increased rapidly.
In 2016, Fostering Compassion was broken away from the Winton Foundation for the Welfare of Bears and established as a charity in its own right. By the end of 2019, more than 700 children have benefited from the programme from throughout Scotland.
Through our work, we address ‘The Link’, which is the recognised connection between animal abuse, child abuse, elder abuse and domestic violence and this, along with the strength and benefits of the human-animal bond strongly underpin our work, the projects we run and the new initiatives we create.
“Fostering Compassion helped us so much as a family. The children now both have a better understanding of what a family is all about, and they both now understand how much they are loved and that we are never going to leave them or do anything to hurt them.”
To provide humane education workshops and activities to vulnerable children to restore, encourage and nurture compassion and empathy towards all sentient beings in order to help break the cycle of abuse. To allow young people the opportunity to heal and to live a more compassionate and confident future, enabling them to reach their full potential as individuals and participate fully in the life of their communities.
To raise awareness of the strength of the human–animal bond and study attachment to pets especially in relation to the vulnerable, in particular isolated seniors. We undertake to promote a stable relationship between human and animal, protecting the bond and attachment especially during periods of transition.
To reach as many vulnerable children and young people nationally and internationally as possible through our humane education work to help them heal and recover from adverse childhood experiences.
To ensure no vulnerable child or adult is forcibly separated from their companion animal and to encourage utmost respect for and recognition of the strength and benefits of the human–animal bond.
Statement of Values
We are committed to the welfare of every child and animal that participates in our programme. We value the contribution of all our volunteers and are committed to equality. We strive for excellence and the best evidence based programme we can deliver, through continuous improvement. We prioritise teamwork and collaboration with service users and stakeholders. We are committed to responsible and effective use of all donor funds and we act ethically, responsibly and fairly in all our dealings.