Including The Excluded
This section of the Hidden Lives Revealed website highlights the Including The Excluded project, which shows how disabled children were cared for by The Children's Society.
The Children's Society Records and Archives Centre was recently commissioned by the National Cataloguing Grants Programme for Archives to open up access to The Children's Society's records relating to the care of disabled children. The Children's Society is happy to announce that the project, entitled 'Including the Excluded', has now been completed.
During the course of the project several catalogues have been produced, including a list of records relating to The Children's Society's work with disabled children and a record of the homes set up specifically by the charity to care for them. Examples of these homes include St Nicholas' and St Martin's Home in Surrey, Bradstock Lockett Home in Merseyside, and Halliwick School in London, although there are of course many others.
Interestingly the catalogues list and index the individual case files of the disabled children that were in The Children's Society's care in the Victorian and Edwardian eras. These case files offer a fascinating insight into the lives of disabled children during this time and contain many stories that have not previously been heard.
As well as The Children's Society's work with disabled children, the records of The Children's Union have been catalogued. The Children's Union was a pioneering fundraising body that raised money, almost entirely, through donations from children. The money raised went on to support the children cared for by The Children's Society. The records show that there was a strong link between The Children's Union and the support of disabled children for over fifty years.
The Children's Society Records, Archives & Protection Manager Ian Wakeling said: "This project has given us a unique insight into the circumstances of disabled children in the Victorian and Edwardian eras. It showed how medical and social care given to them by The Children's Society allowed them to lead as normal a life as possible. The charity's approach to disability was ahead of its time and the records document this."
For The Children's Society's Records and Archives Centre, it is a constant challenge to maintain the records in as good a condition as possible. Part of the project was the cleaning and repackaging of 600 case files. Many of the case files were in poor condition, making them difficult to handle and leaving them in danger of sustaining further damage over time. The repackaging of these case files means that they are now easier to use and has helped to ensure that they will be preserved for years to come.
'Including the Excluded' has opened up a range of records that were previously inaccessible, making them available for future research. The wealth of information that the records contain can help to explain what life was like for disabled children in The Children's Society's care over 100 years ago. It is a history that, until now, has remained unexplored.