Annual Report : April 2010 – March 2011
CCHN was founded in October 2008, and its Annual Reports cover its financial years from March to April. This report therefore covers the second full year of CCHN’s activities, and a separate update is attached to include recent news from April 2011 onwards.
The Board met four times during 2010, on 13 May at the National Children's Bureau, 16 July at PETT in Toddington, on 9 September at the NCB, 10 November (at the time of the AGM) and on 24 February 2011 at the NCB. Robert Clark joined the Board and has offered useful contributions as a person with the experience of residential education as a child.
A new Patron is elected each year and Patrons have served for three consecutive years, so that there are three Patrons at any one time. The role is used in part to honour someone who has served the interests of children in the course of their career and in particular those who have taken an interest in child care history.
Professor Roy Parker was elected as the third Patron of CCHN. Roy has not only had a distinguished academic career, but he has also taken a great interest in the history of child care and recently published a study of the shipping of children and young people to Canada under the title Uprooted.
Last year I reported on the inefficiency of the bank. This unfortunately continued, and Cynthia Cross had to continue managing the accounts for some months after giving up the role of Treasurer as the bank appeared to be incapable of transferring the account to the control of John Cross, who succeeded her. Fortunately Cynthia was prepared to continue to help and we are indebted to her.
A conference was held at Warwick University under the title Child Care Archives: Problems, Opportunities and Consequences on 10 June 2010. Craig Fees and I joined colleagues from the University in arranging the day. A dozen brief papers were presented in three groups, looking at research projects, the viewpoints of service providers and the views of service users respectively. This provided a valuable oversight of the whole subject area, and as usual the variety of participants led to interesting networking opportunities. The day was really interesting, and demonstrated the value of the collaborative model in running seminars.
The main conference was again held at PETT, on 11 November 2010, had the title From Coalface to Facebook? – using the new social media and technology to record, remember and share child care experience. This choice of theme complemented that of the conference held at Warwick University, which looked mainly at traditional paper-based archives.
Charles Sharpe introduced the theme. John Moorhouse gave an overview of the ways in which new technology had developed over the last two decades. Simon Hammond from the University of East Anglia spoke about a new style of video life story book for children looked after by local authorities, for example in recording pictures of their neighbourhoods with the children giving voice-over descriptions. Gudrun Limbrick described the Heritage Lottery Fund-supported project in Birmingham in which all the children’s homes operated by Birmingham City were identified, and a number of oral histories conducted. Dr Jim Goddard of the Care Leavers’ Association and Mark [a former student at Bodenham Manor School] spoke from the perspective of people who had used the services, and Dr Craig Fees and Gemma Geldart spoke of the PETT based HLF research project to gather memories of therapeutic care.
A discussion at the end of the conference highlighted the problem of confidentiality in the use of archives. Careful application of the Data Protection Act suggested to some that people should not have access to archives except where the subjects had given permission, whereas former children in care wanted to see materials which related to themselves and their peer groups, whom they sometimes saw as 'family'. This needs further discussion, and clarification on the law.
In November a meeting was held at The National Archives to discuss the CCHN proposal for a major piece of research to draw up a data-base or directory of all the child care archives in the UK. There is no such resource at present. A proposal had been drafted, and the meeting involved four staff from The National Archive. Their comments proved most helpful and have been built into the proposal. Unfortunately this project has been on a back burner for the last few months, but once the advice of The National Archives has been fully incorporated, other potential partners will be consulted, and the finalised bid will then be put to potential funders. This is seen as a long-term project, but if successful, it will have been an important achievement for CCHN.
The Google group has been well used at times when major issues of concern have arisen. In particular, when the National Centre for Excellence in Residential Child Care was threatened with closure, the group was used for posting many messages of concern. This demonstrated CCHN's concern to be relevant to current practice, and the historical flavour to the discussion was reflected in recollection of the previous Momentum campaign to set up NCERCC in the first place. (NCERCC has since been closed down, and discussions have since taken place with a view to re-establishing it.)
We have circulated occasional newsletters and have appended a number of recent papers relating to child care history. I would be grateful to hear whether this format is appreciated and whether it should continue.
Thanks are due to Board members for their contributions, to Rosemary Lilley for continuing to maintain the Board's agendas and minutes, to John Cross for looking after CCHN's funds as Treasurer, to Craig Fees for managing CCHN’s website, to Charles Sharpe and Alan MacQuarrie for their work on conference organisation, and to Nicola Hilliard and Robert Clark for their contributions. Thanks are also due to PETT and NCB for their hospitality.
David C. Lane
22 October 2011
Updating Note : Developments since April 2011
Since the CCHN financial year closed about seven months ago, this appendix provides more recent information on the Network's activities.
The main work of this period has been the planning of the Annual Seminar. Since the CCHN covers the United Kingdom it was decided that the conference should be held in Scotland this year. The Scottish Institute for Residential Child Care (now named the New Centre) agreed to act as partners and they have played a major role in the planning and administration of the seminar, headed up by Alan MacQuarrie, who is a member of their staff and the CCHN Board.
The response to the call for papers was most encouraging and the seminar promises to be most interesting, with a wide range of speakers from several countries. As far as we know, this is the first international conference on the subject.
An approach was made to the Care Leavers' Association to ask them to nominate a Board member, to ensure that the viewpoint of those who were the subjects of child care archives are represented. Darren Coyne, Networking Project Officer at the CLA, has since taken up the offer and his input is appreciated.
Charles Sharpe gave a paper on Isobel Menzies Lyth at the Board meeting
held at Toddington on 19 May 2011, and this was also attended by a number of people who were taking part in an Archive Weekend as part of PETT's Heritage Lottery Fund-supported "Therapeutic Living With Other People's Children" project." The paper has since been published in Children Webmag. Furthermore the Board was given the opportunity to take part in an Assessment, Training and Advisory Event with former residents of Wennington School who were participating in the project, which included recording oral history from former staff and pupils of several therapeutic schools. (We are pleased to report that this project went well, culminating in a two-day conference at Birmingham University.)
Plans are proceeding to hold a seminar on child migration during 2012, the likely date being 21 March. This is being planned in conjunction with the Child Migrants Trust, who have done so much to support children who were shipped to Australia after the Second World War. Their story was put on film under the title Oranges and Sunshine and it was widely released earlier this year. Further details about the conference will follow in due course.
Finally, Bob Holman has agreed to be nominated as Patron from 2011. He has had a distinguished career, having been a Professor, an active campaigner for children's welfare, a community worker who has lived on his patch, a constant prompt about the needs of the poor and vulnerable in the media and an author of historical works about child care among other subjects. If elected he will be CCHN's fourth Patron.
The first Patron, Earl Francis Listowel will complete his term of office at the AGM in Glasgow. We are thankful to him for lending his name and support.
Last year I noted the need to recruit more members. This remains the case. Child care history will be a minority interest, but everyone concerned about it should support CCHN by joining. Please suggest to any colleagues and friends who might be interested that they take up life membership; it is a modest cost, but will help keep CCHN going. Membership fees are:
£15 per annum
£30 per annum
Aged 55 years and over, 10 x current annual subscription: £150
Aged 65 years and over, 5 x current annual subscription: £75