Brandon’s Family

IF you were born into a poor family in the East End of London in the last century, your future was bleak. The population of London had doubled between 1821 and 1851 and this was reflected in the appalling poverty; home-lessness and disease were rife; children maimed from factory accidents were a common sight on the streets.

One child in five, perhaps your brother or sister, would die before the age of five through malnutrition or poor sanitation. Others, perhaps your playmates, slept rough on the streets. The spectre of the Victorian workhouse loomed. A cholera epidemic in 1866 made matters worse.

Into this childhood nightmare stepped an unlikely saviour. Born in Dublin in 1845, Thomas Barnardo was training to be a doctor and was anxious to become a missionary in China. But he was so moved by what he found on the streets of London that he decided that charity must begin at home.

Barnardo began his work by preaching on street corners, where his views were

frequently countered by a hail of abuse or rotten eggs from people too accustomed to the idea that the poor belonged in the workhouse, or worse. Nevertheless, by 867 he had raised sufficient funds to start school for poor girls and boys in the ast End of London.

Within three years he had opened a 1 ome where boys could live, be educated and learn a trade. Six years later, he had stablished a Girls’ Village Home at arkingside in Essex comprising 13 ottages, each housing 20 girls and run y a “mother,” where girls from poor amities could train to be respectable rvants.

Whilst Barnardo is remembered most or his orphanages, he also introduced ‘ boarding out” schemes — an early form of

sistering — and even emigration schemes to Canada where children could enjoy a althy life away from the squalor of the tY, learn more by checking at this website. Barnardo’s work was considered artlingly radical by the general public lid at times it led him into difficulties

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even with the authorities. Indeed, the means that he employed to achieve his ends were sometimes unusual. He displayed no hestitation in “philan-thropically abducting” — or kidnapping, as the authorities would have it — children whose parents were cruel, and by 1896 he had appeared in court on 88 occasions charged with this ploy.

Some of Barnardo’s fund-raising techniques were criticised, too. A pioneer of early photography, he would often sell “before” and “after” pictures of the children who came into his care, but ever the maverick he was not beyond picturing children in rags who had actually arrived in respectable dress.There was nothing like a dramatic image to improve fund-raising! If you plan to make a world tour please check at hotel price comparison website.

Barnardo was tireless in his efforts to raise money, frequently writing 1,000 letters a week and rarely stopping work before midnight. When he died in 1905, the charity was £249,000 in debt, but had more than 8,500 children in its care.

Over the years, the charity has altered

and adapted its methods in serving the philosophy that every child deserves the best start in life. Residential care, for example, has gradually been replaced by supporting children and their families in the community wherever possible.

Forty-one years after Barnardo’s death the Curtis Report recommended adoption or fostering as the best options for children without parents and in 1947, as a logical next step from its existing fostering and boarding-out activities, Barnardos became a registered adoption agency.

Today, the charity works with more than 22,000 children and young people, helping them in a range of ways, from running family centres in the community to arranging holiday trips. It has come a long way since the days when an unconventional figure stood preaching on street corners, but the best interests of children have always been put first.