Our history

Edward Rudolf sitting in a chair and writing

Edward Rudolf

In the late nineteenth century, Edward Rudolf, a young Sunday school teacher and civil servant in South London, saw first-hand the brutal effects of poverty on the lives of children.

When two young boys failed to turn up for his Sunday school, he went to look for them and was shocked to find them begging for food on the streets. Their father had died, leaving their mother struggling to bring up seven children under the age of 11.

Theirs was not an isolated experience and Rudolf was moved to act.


Scroll through the timeline below to uncover images from our vast archives and discover more about our history from 1881 to present day.

Looking forward

We listen. We support. We act.

Our extensive network of frontline services and army of volunteers work to tackle child poverty and neglect.

Together we help families trapped in debt, support young carers and runaways and stop sexual exploitation.

We fight for change based on the experiences of every child we help and the solid evidence we gather. Through our ambitious campaigns and determination we expose injustice and address hard truths to change attitudes, challenge misconceptions and influence policy. 

Today, as always, we are ambitious for all children. We are determined, through our campaigning, commitment and care, to give every child the greatest possible chance in life.