[Taken from Child Migrants Trust website: http://www.childmigrantstrust.com]
The Child Migrants Trust was established in 1987 by its Director, Margaret Humphreys CBE, OAM, to address the devastating impact of British child migration schemes. Its origins go back to 1986 when Margaret Humphreys, a Nottinghamshire Social Worker, received a letter from a woman who claimed that at the age of four she was shipped to a Children's Home in Australia, and now wanted help to find her parents or any members of her family in Britain.
Whilst investigating this first plea for help, the enormity of Britain's child migration schemes was exposed. Research uncovered the astonishing fact that over 130,000 children had been deported from Britain and shipped off to a "new life" originally to distant parts of the Empire and, more recently, across the Commonwealth. This long history of compulsory migration ended in 1970 when post-war child migration drew to a close.
Children as young as three years old had been separated from their country and all that was familiar, to be brought up mainly in Orphanages, Farm Schools and other institutions. Many were treated as child slave labour and denied even a basic education. Most of the children were told that they were orphans whose parents were dead. This was the most cruel deception of all. Many experienced degrading physical, sexual and emotional abuse throughout their childhood. Parents, too, were deceived about the fate of their children and were often told that they had been adopted in Britain.
There are several different dimensions to the Trust's work. A key task is to give former child migrants basic, fundamental rights which most of us take for granted - a knowledge of their family background, a full birth certificate, clarity about their citizenship status and the opportunity to reunite with their family.
In addition, many former child migrants need skilled help to come to terms with their childhood experiences of profound loss while living in cold, harsh institutions. These failed to meet even minimum standards of care for young, exquisitely vulnerable children. Similarly, meeting family members after a separation of over fifty years requires sensitive planning and preparation to avoid an awkward encounter between strangers and achieve positive results for all concerned.
The Trust has also campaigned to raise public awareness of the difficult legacy and long-term consequences of child migration schemes, both for former child migrants in different countries and their families in Britain.
18 November 2013
Cite this: http://www.findandconnect.gov.au/guide/ref/WE00412
First published by the Find & Connect Web Resource Project for the Commonwealth of Australia, 2011
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