On her visit, The Duchess of Cornwall met children and their families supported by the centre, which is also supported by The Novak Djokovic Foundation. She met those living in extreme poverty or with mental health illnesses or disabilities as well as family outreach workers who are empowering parents to look after their children in healthy environments, keep them safe and avoid the risk of them being placed in institutions.
The centre works to keep families together and teams also support parents whose children are returning home after time spent in foster care. They ensure the family’s reunion is successful and the child returns to a safe and stable environment.
On her visit to the UNICEF supported centre, The Duchess of Cornwall met with families who spoke to her about their experiences and the invaluable and life changing help they receive. One mother emphasised how important this centre is to her and her family and the difference it’s made to their futures.
UNICEF UK Executive Director, David Bull, said: “We are thrilled that The Duchess of Cornwall took time in her two-day visit to Serbia to meet vulnerable families supported by Unicef in Serbia. Unicef is working to keep families together and help keep more children safe and protected.”
Speaking on behalf of his Foundation and as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, Novak Djokovic said in a video message to the Duchess of Cornwall: "I want to thank The Duchess of Cornwall for deciding to visit families from the project Families at Risk, jointly implemented by the Government of Serbia, UNICEF and the Novak Djokovic Foundation.This project is of great importance for all of us because it focuses on empowering families, and strong families are the pillars of every society.
“We cannot have happy, playful and inquisitive children without providing them with a safe environment in which they can grow, play and develop. My family was my safe haven while I was growing up and this fact alone helped me to become the man I am today. Now, both my wife and I wish to provide the same nurturing environment to our son.
“So far, 400 families and children have passed through this project and all of them have said that their family outreach worker helped them to strengthen their parenting skills and to enhance relationships in the family; in essence that they made them feel better and safer.
“Some of the families were fortunate enough, for the first time, to celebrate their children’s birthdays together, others were never again separated from each other; many children improved their school grades because they could come back home to loving and caring parents.”
The Duchess of Cornwall visited UNICEF’s programmes as part of a visit to the Western Balkans alongside The Prince of Wales from 14th- 19th March 2016.