Our apology to non-recent (historic) abuse victims and survivors
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, our supporters, and our previous and current employees and volunteers 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.
In June 2017 we published our apology to historical abuse victims and survivors. Since our original apology we have done more to understand our history and continue to learn lessons from this, we are therefore updating our apology in 2020 to reflect this learning.
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.
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.
During 2017 we commissioned an independent reviewer to carry out a robust, independent review of historical abuse allegations and how they were handled by The Children’s Society. We have taken the learning from this review, a further independent review undertaken in 2019, and the ongoing findings from the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) to support the understanding of the organisation. We have put this into a learning review statement.
The Children’s Society opened its first children’s home in Dulwich, South London in 1882 and by 1919 were operating 113 homes around England and Wales. The provision of residential care was a key aspect of the Society’s work for most of the twentieth century and our last residential care home closed in 1997. We no longer run any residential care services.
IICSA’s investigations included the 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 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 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 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.
Contact our team
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 Access to Records Team on any of the options below:
- Call 020 7841 4567 (Monday-Friday, 9am-4pm and 24-hour answer phone)
- Email Access to Records Team at or submit an online enquiry.
Our team will respond to you within two working days, listen to your story, help you review your records, where necessary guide you through our procedures, 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.