We are committed to supporting the most vulnerable children and young people in society and as such, we will not tolerate abuse of any kind

29 June 2017

It is our role to ensure that children and young people are always properly supported to speak out about abuse or make a complaint about the way they are treated, under any circumstances.

With enormous regret, The Children’s Society has not always lived up to these fundamental principles and children in our care have suffered harm and abuse.

The people we have worked with in the past, the children and young people we work with today, and our supporters, have every right to expect us to be open, honest and transparent about occasions in the past when we have let down those in our care.

Today, 29 June, we are publishing the following apology.


Our apology

Since it was founded in 1881, The Children’s Society has helped and supported hundreds of thousands of children and young people, enabling them to thrive as children and then as adults. We no longer run any residential care services, but for many years The Children’s Society ran a number of children’s homes across the country.

As a charity committed to helping the most vulnerable in society, it’s important that we talk openly about The Children’s Society’s history, learn the lessons of the past and acknowledge that the charity has at times failed some of the very children it sought to help.

We profoundly apologise to anyone who was abused emotionally, physically and sexually as children while in the care of The Children’s Society in the UK and any child whose life was blighted by being migrated to other parts of the world, including any child migrant who suffered at the hands of abusers in their new country.

We also recognise that whenever The Children’s Society let down a child that it was supposed to care for, the charity also failed the people who had so generously supported our work as a charity.

We have commissioned an independent reviewer to carry out a robust, independent review of historical abuse allegations and how they have been handled by The Children’s Society. This review is currently underway; we will publish the recommendations and our response to them which will inform our future ways of responding to and supporting people who allege historical abuse.

This review is being carried out at the same time as the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) is undertaking its investigations. As part of its work the inquiry is investigating historical child migration that saw many agencies and charities assist in the migration of tens of thousands of children overseas during the last century. As part of government backed programmes, from 1883 to 1961 The Children’s Society facilitated the migration of 3700 children to Australia, Canada and Zimbabwe (then Southern Rhodesia), 153 of these children in the period 1947-1961.

Those children who went abroad were promised a better life but for some the optimistic future they were looking forward to never happened. Some suffered greatly as a result of being separated from their families, and some experienced neglect and emotional, physical and sexual abuse at the hands of those who were supposed to care for them.

We are deeply sorry for the hurt and anguish suffered by these children and the lifelong impact of these traumatic experiences. We know that we can never undo the past, but we are committed to doing everything we can to provide support now to anyone who needs it and we are hoping to reach out to anyone who has suffered as a result of being migrated by The Children’s Society.

We also want to acknowledge that it’s not only child migrants who suffered at the hands of abusers. We are also deeply sorry to any other people who in the past suffered neglect, harm or sexual abuse while in the care of The Children’s Society here in the UK, and we will also support you in any way we can.

We acknowledge that a public apology is long overdue.

We want anyone who believes they have suffered any kind of abuse, harm or neglect whilst in the care of The Children’s Society to please contact our specialist team or call us on 0207 841 4567 (Monday-Friday, 9am-4pm). Our specialist team will respond to you within two working days, listen to your story, help you review your records, where necessary guide you through our complaints procedure, and put in place the help and support you need. 

We will never tolerate abuse of any kind. We urge anyone who has concerns about abuse to come forward and report their concerns.

We want to face up to these past mistakes, learn from the failings, and ensure that children today are protected from abuse, both now and in the future, by being true to our values of putting children and young people first.