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Child migration

  1. What was Barnardo’s involvement with child migration?
  2. How does Barnardo’s feel about the Government’s apology for child migration?
  3. When did Barnardo’s send its last child?
  4. What will Barnardo’s be doing in response to the Government’s apology?
  5. Who can I contact for more information about child migration?

Read the response of Martin Narey, former Chief Executive of Barnardo's.


1. What was Barnardo’s involvement with child migration?

Dr. Barnardo’s Homes, as Barnardo’s was then known, was one of many children’s charities involved in child migration. The practice, which began in earnest in the late 1800s and started to decline rapidly after World War II, was born from the idea of offering children an opportunity of a new start in life, in a new country.

This was a widely accepted policy at the time, and was supported by both British and overseas governments.

The voluntary agencies who sent children were motivated by the belief that a fresh start would offer the children opportunities they would not have had if they remained in the UK.

2. How does Barnardo’s feel about the Government’s apology for child migration?

Barnardo’s welcomes the apology from the British Government. We believe that what happened was misguided, despite it being an accepted policy at the time.

However well-intentioned child migration might have been, for many the experience was painful. As such, we deeply regret any role that Dr. Barnardo’s Homes played in this.

Read Barnardo's press statement

Read the response of Martin Narey, former Chief Executive of Barnardo's.

3. When did Barnardo’s send its last child?

The last child we migrated was in 1967, to Australia. From 1968 onwards a small number of children were sent overseas purely to be reunited with their families or repatriated.

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4. What will Barnardo’s be doing in response to the Government’s apology?  

Dr Barnardo himself set up an after care department for all former Barnardo's children, including child migrants.

Since this day, Barnardo’s has worked to help former child migrants – as we help any child who was once in our care - by supplying family information, helping to trace relatives, reuniting families and offering support.

Former Barnardo’s child migrants or their descendants are invited to contact our Making Connections department, who can help them access their records or track down their family or relatives. You will find the details on our website.

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5. Who can I contact for more information about child migration?

Please contact our Making Connections department:

Email Making Connections

You can contact our Family History Service department as well.

If you want to know more about our involvement in child migration please contact us:

Email us

All media enquiries should be directed to our media line on 0208 498 5555.

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