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First, let's begin with apologies for the delay in getting out this Newsletter. Whilst it has been held up - for any number of reasons - the work of CCHN has still proceeded!


- Watch This Space! Booking Information Coming Soon -

Annual Conference: CHILD MIGRANTS : Liverpool, 15 October 2012

Originally planned for the Spring of 2012, the CCHN conference on Child Migrants has been re-scheduled for Monday 15 October 2012, partly because the Oral History Society's annual conference, "Displaced Childhoods: Oral history and traumatic experiences", is being held at Southampton Solent University on 13-14 July and involves several Board members.

The aim of CCHN's "Child Migrants" conference is to consider the organised movement of children by governments or child care agencies, and the impact of this movement on the children and their families, to see what can be learnt to inform current practice. The Child Migrants Trust is supporting the event.

In the 19th and 20th centuries - up to the 1960s - about 160,000 children were sent from the UK to Canada, Australia and other parts of the Empire. The aims were to offer the children a fresh start in life, and to provide a workforce for the countries as their economies expanded and they needed people to work the land. Despite the good intentions many of the children had a miserable time, working as forced labour, having limited schooling and sometimes being sexually exploited. Perhaps the worst aspect is that professionals lied to the children and their families about their circumstances: for example, they told parents that the children had been adopted, when they were in fact in institutions; and they told children that their parents were dead, when they were still very much alive.

CCHN aims not only to study historical topics but also to apply what is learned to current practice. It is most unlikely that the mass movement of children in this way would be sanctioned today, but according to UNHCR figures something like 3,000 to 4,000 applications are made in the UK each year by unaccompanied and separated children seeking asylum - which would mean over 30,000 a decade -, and UNHCR reports that of 33.9 million people of concern to it worldwide, almost half are children, including "children who are refugees, asylum seekers and stateless as well as returnee and internally displaced children" . There are almost certainly lessons to be learnt from past experience - about professionals knowing best, about lying to children, about the best interests of children, about the long-term effects of migration; but also perspectives to be gained on what has in fact been learned, and what is being done better today

The conference programme may also include the wartime evacuation of children and its consequences. It should be a very interesting event. The conference will be held at the National Maritime Museum in Liverpool. Liverpool has many additional attractions: why not have a city break and come along? The AGM will be held first thing before the conference.

Programme and booking details will be circulated shortly!

FUTURE WORK (Watch this Space, too)

Spring 2013 Conference: "From Maria to Munro": 21 March 2013

We are in the early stages of planning a conference at Barns Centre in Toddington, Gloucestershire, on 21 March 2013. Board member Charles Sharpe has written a short introductory paper to trigger thinking, with the focus being on the history of safeguarding - hence the working title, "From Maria to Munro".


International Seminar: "Child Care: Learning from History" : Glasgow, November 2011

We planned the "Child Care: Learning from History"seminar jointly with the Scottish Institute of Residential Child Care, but by the time the conference took place on 7 November 2011, SIRCC was already history, and the name of the successor body, which has a wider remit, is CELCIS - Centre for Excellence for Looked After Children in Scotland. The partnership worked well; SIRCC / CELSIS did nearly all of the practical work and CCHN helped in recruiting the speakers and organising the programme. As far as we are aware this was the first international conference on the history of child care.

The seminar was held at Jury's Inn in the centre of Glasgow, an excellent venue which we can recommend to others planning events. There were about 70 - 80 people present from about eight countries and papers were presented in parallel streams, allowing for a very wide range of material to be delivered. The quality of the presentations was high, and CELSIS is planning to publish them in a special edition of its journal before long.

Among the outstanding papers were introductory keynote addresses by David Divine and Keith White. Keith had undertaken research as a student at Edinburgh University, comparing residential and foster care systems in Scotland and England, and he raised questions about today's practice arising from his findings. David had been brought up in residential care in Scotland before being moved, literally without forewarning, to foster care in England; his subsequent career has included senior posts in the management of services and in academia, and he movingly recalled his debt to his carers.

On the day after the seminar a small party visited The Kibble and Quarriers, two residential establishments sited near to Glasgow, both with a long history in child care, and extensive archives. The contrast in the ways they have adapted to changing circumstances and methods of child care, though, was fascinating.

The Kibble has now been engulfed by greater Glasgow, and it has been almost entirely rebuilt to provide modern services to meet the needs of the region, including an impressive secure unit with excellent facilities, treatment units, a school and preparation for independence. It is hard to do justice to the range of services developed by Graham Bell and his team in a few lines.

Quarrier's on the other hand is still sited in a secluded spot in the countryside, and its founders would recognise the buildings - a sort of high-quality Victorian model village. There are about sixty units on the site, a few being still in use, but about a third have been sold off, and Quarriers have focused on developing a wide range of services elsewhere in both Scotland and England.


CCHN covers the whole of the UK, though its membership currently is mainly English and Scottish. In view of the Scottish flavour of the seminar and AGM, it was decided to invite Professor Bob Holman to be CCHN's fourth Patron. Bob has lived for many years in Glasgow, where he has played a major role in community work, but he has also taken an active interest in the history of child care, having published a history of the Children's Departments in England and Wales, for example. We are grateful to him for accepting the invitation.

Francis, Earl of Listowel, completed his three year term as Patron; the other current Patrons are Dame Gillian Pugh and Professor Roy Parker. We are grateful to them for their support.

New Board Member

We are very pleased to welcome Zachari Duncalf to the CCHN Board. Herself a care leaver, Zachari has a BA (Hons) in Sociology and Social Anthropology and a Postgraduate Diploma in Research from the University of Hull, and is currently completing her PhD with an oral history project on the life stories of those who have been in care. You may have seen the recent interview on her life and work in The Guardian ("Why we need to listen to adult care leavers", by Jo Adetunji). Zachari is a Research Fellow at CELCIS at the University of Strathclyde, as well as a Trustee of the British Association for Adoption and Fostering, and will be presenting a report on her work with care leavers, oral history, autobiography and identity at the upcoming Oral History Society conference in July.

Thankyou: Tom James

We are sorry to report that Tom James died on April 2nd. He was a Board member of CCHN for its first three years, and as a former pupil at both Ledston Hall Special School and Wennington School, he brought the perspective of the service user who was a subject of the records. His contribution in this respect was invaluable, his knowledge of procedure and governance was formidable, and as a person he added a wry self-deprecating touch of humour and immense human insight to our discussions.

Access to records

Darren Coyne, Projects and Development Worker for the Care Leavers Association, has joined the Board, and he presented a paper laying out the CLA's concerns about access to records. Former children in care often have a real struggle to see their files. The process is lengthy, files go missing, they are often heavily redacted, and practice varies enormously from one authority to another.

The CLA has set up a Gold Standard for the way that the process is managed and is encouraging authorities to sign up to it. Unfortunately many authorities do not meet the current time limits required by law, and with cuts it is likely that the posts of people who manage archives are just the sort of backroom jobs that will be deleted.

The CCHN Board has decided to support the CLA in their campaign, and are due to meet formally with them.


Modern Records Centre: Family Service Unit Records

Helen Ford, Archive Manager of the Modern Records Centre at the University of Warwick writes:

We've taken in a collection of archives for the Family Service Units (FSU) c. 1940s to 2010. This includes official records as well as personal reminiscences of FSU officers and local unit material. It's a really interesting collection. FSU formally came together in 1948 with the primary aim of helping families in difficulty in the aftermath of the war, particularly those affected by evacuation.  Its concern was to promote the welfare of families and communities and the agency is identified with a specific method of working focused on 'casework' with individuals and families. The FSU was absorbed by the charity Family Action in 2006.

On the question of duplicate copies of books addressed in the last Newsletter Helen writes "We also have a reasonable collection of social work/mental health 'historical' books now - so it may be worth checking with us as well for spare copies." 
To get in touch with Helen:
Modern Records Centre
University of Warwick
Coventry CV4 7AL
Tel. 024 7652 4494
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

New online directory of cottage homes and other former children's homes

Gudrun Limbrick, who will be known to many CCHN members as a speaker at past CCHN conferences, has created what she calls "an ever-growing collection of information, photographs, memories and hints about how to track down records."

According to Gudrun "The new website aims to catalogue all the cottage homes - the series of children's homes started by the Victorian Poor Law Unions, many of which continued into the 1970s and 1980s."

She goes on to say:

Very little has been known about the cottage homes so this website is an opportunity to disseminate basic information about them but also for people to contribute their own memories, photographs and information. We are also endeavouring to add information about where people who spent time in the homes (or their descendants) can find their records, and have worked with the Care Leavers' Association on this element of the site.

Not only does the site cover the cottage homes of England and Wales but, due to demand for information from site visitors, I am also trying to build up information about other institutions such as approved schools, ragged schools and hostels for working children. The whole site is, of course, free to use.

Jim Hyland's history of the Approved Schools service

Children Webmag has completed its serialisation of Jim Hyland's history of the Approved Schools service. We attached a couple of chapters to our last Newsletter. In all there have been fourteen sections, and it has made fascinating reading. In particular, the way in which the schools were morphed into Community Homes with Education and then closed because of the appalling financial system shows the impact of unintended consequences.

Children Webmag can be found on and the archives hold the whole series.


We have debated within the Board where we should go next, and two main ideas for new and additional areas of work have emerged:

(a) We could publish a journal - perhaps annually - of articles on historical child care topics, preferably with a message for current practice. To do so, we might need to link with a University and we would need to establish an Editorial Board, perhaps with an international membership.

(b) We could hold small local meetings on topics relating the region wherever groups of members may be found.

If you have ideas you would like CCHN to follow up, and/or if you would like to be involved in a practical way, please get in touch.

Postscript: Have you seen these?

Annemieke van Drenth & Kevin Myers (2011): Normalising childhood: policies and interventions concerning special children in the United States and Europe (1900–1960), Paedagogica Historica: International Journal of the History of Education, 47:6, 719-727

John Stewart (2011): “The dangerous age of childhood”: child guidance and the “normal” child in Great Britain, 1920–1950, Paedagogica Historica: International Journal of the History of Education, 47:6, 785-803

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