The National Children's Home Story

The Constitution of the Children's Home (1869)

The object of this Institution is to shelter, feed, clothe, educate, train to industrial habits, and, by God's blessing, lead to Christ, children who are in danger of falling into criminal habits. It is commenced in humble dependence on the blessing of Almighty God, and it is hoped that its daily engagements will be pervaded by a religious spirit. For it is the firm faith of its founders that good citizens can only be found in good Christians, and that Christian philanthropy should aim at nothing less than the conversion of the soul from sin to God.

This Institution is not for orphans only; in some cases children with both parents living are in a worse condition than if they had none. It prescribes no limit of age or circumstances in the applicants, but the Committee will judge of every case presented to them on its merits. The cumbrous mode of election to vacancies will not be adopted, but the utmost deference will be paid by the Committee to the recommendation of any subscriber.

The necessity of such an institution is sufficiently shown by the fact that, while it is calculated that there are 100,000 children in London who ought to be in some such institution, all the Reformatories, Refuges, and Industrial Schools at present in operation do not provide for one tithe of them.

The immediate occasion of the establishment of this Institution has been the need discovered, in the course of their duties, by some of our Home Missionary and other ministers in London, and especially in the immediate neighbourhood in which the Home has been established. It is believed also that the hand of Divine Providence is remarkably seen in the circumstances which have hitherto attended this attempt to do His work.

The Home will be managed by a Director and a Committee of four other gentlemen. There will also be a Council of Advice and Aid, to which the Committee will present a monthly statement of the condition and progress of the Home, and who will be consulted in any critical matter.

The immediate charge of the Home will be committed to a Master and Mistress, who, however, will be known among the inmates as 'Father' and 'Mother.' The character of the Institution, and the spirit in which it will be conducted, are apparent from the instructions which have been prepared for those who are put in charge.

As far as possible the feeling of independence will be cultivated among the boys. They will receive wages for all the work they do, which will be carefully saved for them in the Penny Bank. Out of this they will be required to pay some small proportion of the cost of their clothes, and by this means it is hoped not only that habits of thrift and industry will be cultivated in them, but that the expenses of the Home will be somewhat lightened. Still, too much must not be expected from this source, and the cost of the Institution will in the main be defrayed by subscriptions and donations. The premises now rented will accommodate twenty three boys, and at present boys only will be received. The sum required for ordinary expenses on the present scale will probably be from £250 to £300 per year. And in addition there is the cost of repairs and fitting the house for its present use {£25), and the cost of furniture (up to the present enough for six boys, £15). In many other ways, however, besides the gift of money, the friends of the Institution may render it valuable aid:—

1. By the gift of articles of furniture, school-books, old or new clothing, provisions, picture-books, &c., &c. Old clothing will be valuable, as it may be altered to fit the boys, and will then save a considerable item of expense. Shoes and boots are specially needed.

N.B.—Persons desiring to provide sleeping accommodation for one boy can do so at a cost of 25s. At present only six beds are bought, and no inmates beyond that number can be received until additional beds are provided.

2. Help may be rendered by the purchase of firewood, which will be prepared by the boys, and delivered to order, monthly or oftener, as the buyer may direct. It is hoped that gradually other trades may be added to this; but in the present premises the industrial occupations must necessarily be few and simple.