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Sep 27 13 12:18 PM

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Hello One and All,
I'm conducting a survey here in an informal and friendly way--hopefully some of you at least will feel moved to consider this topic and send in some comments :-)  It's partly because it's becoming difficult for Action for Children to spend money and time on preserving and managing the NCH archives, and this makes me sad as I know how important it was for me to be able to access information about my own and my sister's time at Harpenden, and what the circumstances were that resulted in our being placed there. 

 I don't blame AFC--I think they are extremely busy with current needs for childcare at the same time as being constrained by budgetary matters. They have apparently had to let go of the person who was handling the archives. I think too, that it may be difficult for current staff to imagine what it was like for us to be in NCH care and why it would matter to us now. 

 I want to write to them about my concerns, but thought it might be good to get some feedback from as many people as feel able to respond to this topic, from as many different branches as possible, so that I can write to them not only about my personal response to the danger of losing access to our history, but also about what a great many of us would feel about that.

I would so appreciate it if you would consider what it has meant to you to get your files or what it would mean to you if you were either able to access them or not.  I want to represent as many voices as possible on this, but be assured you will remain anonymous in my report unless you want to be named.

Every good wish, and many thanks in advance to those of you who will feel moved to respond.  It can be as short or as long as you wish, but please say something, if you can, about why this is important to you.  It will help me enormously in considering what to say to AFC.
Shelagh

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#1 [url]

Sep 27 13 2:32 PM

Hi Shelagh,
Was surprised to read about Action for Children going to drop things that we "oldies" care about!
Of course they haven't a clue about us, maybe they think we were wild kids and that's why we were in the Homes, how wrong can they be?
I was in Barlow from 1940 to '46, and I really miss the place. The few people that I managed to be in touch with from that time have all passed away, I feel SO alone now.

Will let you write to AforC, and count me in.

God Bless little sister

Nita (James)  

barlow45

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#2 [url]

Sep 27 13 5:17 PM

Hi Nita!
We must have just missed each other at Harpenden. I was in Mrs Ferens with Sister Cora and family from 1946-52. And of course Barlow was right next door!
Thanks for your response, and I'll note what you have said re the archives.
Shelagh

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dave

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#3 [url]

Sep 27 13 7:37 PM

pipesofharpenden, I don't know who you think you are fooling, perhaps yourself, but please stop this diatribe and stop hiding behind pseudonyms every time you come on here.

I really don't understand your problem but suggest if you would discuss things in an adult up front manner instead of attacking anything someone says with nonsensical ranting you may get a reasonable response. Your comments regarding Shelaghs post just makes no sense at all. All you have achieved is spoiling what would have been a very interesting debate.

You need to be very careful pipesofharpenden as your attacking of persons on this site in the manner in which you are doing now and have done in the past could be regarded as bullying and as such is reportable to the authorities, you have been warned.

Now awaiting my turn to receive some of your 'enlightening' ramblings. Don't worry Jeff I have broad shoulders I can take it.

Dave





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#4 [url]

Sep 27 13 7:48 PM

Hello Shelaghc,
                     please count me in for the support of your survey. I think AFC do a
                     fantastic job for us ex NCH children i cannot praise them enough for
                     what they do. I do realize after all these years it must seem a bit
                     of a drag but to us who were there,it is so important. I feel really sad
                     that this could be happening to us. So well done Shelaghc for bringing
                     this to our attention
                                                    BRI45

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#7 [url]

Sep 27 13 10:58 PM

Hi Shelagh,
First off, your post was clear and distinct so ignore the "Feeble one".
My view is that it is very important for AFC to try and maintain the work they have done.
I knew so little of my past, other than in Fairfield from 14months to fifteen years of age.
My Mother and a Sister were unknown to me, my father was very vague etc, so when I got my records I learned so much. Or should I say I didn't know I knew so little ?. It was a revelation to me and the great part is it settled so much doubt for me after almost fifty years.
I'm in support of your efforts and if there's anything I should do to help you, please let me know.
Take care
Malc T in B.C

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royl

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#8 [url]

Sep 28 13 12:31 AM

Jeff,
                 Just get yourself some treatment, a normal person just would not act in this foolish manner.

Roy

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royl

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#9 [url]

Sep 28 13 12:48 AM

Hi Shelagh,
                      What do our records mean to me.     Throughout later life, a person who has been in any home must wonder why, who was at fault, were they responsible for the situation or was there anything they could have done to alleviate that situation?     This in some cases remains a feeling of guilt and in almost all remains an unanswered question until they can read the facts, however sparse, contained in their personal file.    That revelation of the truth for me was an end to a lifetime of questions, not only for me but for my family as well.  It closes the book.  It is odd to say but in closing the book a feeling of liberation is found.
I cannot over emphasize just how important it has been for me and now my family that a missing part of my life is now known and can be given the right level of priority and importance within my past.

Roy 

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malsal

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#10 [url]

Sep 28 13 12:53 PM

Hi Roy I couldn't agree more  it was an eye opener when I got mine ,I knew things where bad at home Oliver Twist had nothing on me , the Inspector said on seeing me "His cloths were hanging in ribbons" and when my Dad was asked to see my other one's was told " I didn't have any". I think I was really rescued .I will leave further details to your imagination ,though it would be XX rated .       regards to all  Malc S   

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#11 [url]

Sep 28 13 2:50 PM

Hello Malc T in BC,
Thank you for your kind and supportive comments, and for the response to the question about access to NCH archives.  Much appreciated and taken note of!  :-)
More anon,
Shelagh

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#12 [url]

Sep 28 13 2:58 PM

Hi Roy,
Many thanks for your comments on the topic at hand.  It's going to be interesting to see how many different responses there might be, and yes, filling in the missing pieces of one's life will be a major one, I suspect.
I will keep this survey open for some weeks to give as many people as possible a chance to answer in their own way, and eventually post what I will have attempted to summarize for AFC and certainly for all of us too!

Shelagh

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#13 [url]

Sep 28 13 3:12 PM

Hi Everyone,
I haven't yet said why getting my records was important for me.  I would say the most important thing for me was that they revealed many changes and upheavals in my early years--some of which I knew about, some I did not-- and that helped me see why the issue of abandonment has been so big in my life. I think this was why I didn't function so well in the NCH either, and sought isolation in the  woods and fields, but didn't connect with people very well. Recognising the need to work with feelings of abandonment  helped me seek out the resources I needed to deal with those feelings and experience a good deal of healing along the way, somewhat late in the day, but thankfully not too late! :-)

Shelagh

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dave

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#14 [url]

Sep 28 13 5:42 PM

Getting my records was the best thing that could have happened. Reading them filled in a lot of blanks for me such as confirming the fact I was in care on and off before being taken in by the NCH at Harpenden and corrected some things I thought I knew. While it was mostly good reading my records did highlight some things that were not great including the fact my mother and father were not very good parents which was a bit hard to read but has explained a lot and deep down I think I knew but didn't want to acknowledge.

Access to our files must be maintained for moral reasons. Correct me if I am wrong, but is it not a legal requirement in the UK that people should be able to have this information?
If  AFC cannot maintain this important resource then it would have to be passed to other authorities?


Dave

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#16 [url]

Sep 28 13 6:45 PM

Thanks Dave,
This info will also be added to the general appeal to AFC for care of our files etc.

Yes, I think it is a legal matter--access to our files, although I haven't looked into that aspect yet.  I remember when there was a PBS program on the children who were shipped to Australia, and it became a legal matter for them to obtain their files, so I'm assuming that's the case for us too.  Anyone here have more information about this?  Clive?

Thanks Dave!

Shelagh

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clive

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#17 [url]

Sep 28 13 9:19 PM

Dear Shelagh,
 
Thanks for your message.
 
This is the current Action for Children policy concerning Access to child care records:-
 

Records and support

We have always felt a commitment to former residents and are able to offer support to those who request it.

Access to records

Action for children (previously known as NCH or National Children’s Homes) has been involved in the care of many thousands of children for all or part of their early lives. We hold, in the strictest confidence, personal information on most people who were adopted through Action for Children or who lived in an Action for Children home.

Anyone requesting access to personal records is advised, and offered the opportunity to meet with an experienced social worker. If you live overseas we suggest that you identify a counsellor or social worker in your area through whom your records can be sent. If you are requesting access to your adoption records or an adoption intermediary service you will need to meet with an adoption support worker. We will be able to advise viewing arrangements on receipt of your application.

We are able to provide an access to records service for:

  • adults formerly in care and adopted
  • adults formerly in care in the UK who now live outside the UK
  • Adults adopted through Action for Children
  • Birth relatives requesting an intermediary service (help with search and reunion)
Descendants of ex-residents / family history requests (where the ex-resident is no longer alive): regretfully, due to a high demand for the service we have had to prioritise personal requests from former care adults and adopted adults. We are therefore unable to accept any further requests from relatives at this time, but please continue to check this page for any updates.
To apply for records please print out and complete our Access to Records form, then send it along with the required identification documents by recorded delivery or other secure method of postage to the following address:

Action for Children
Access to Records Service
12a Hackford Walk
Hackford Road
Stockwell
London
SW9 0QT

Alternatively if you would prefer to send the form and identification documents  by email please contact us at atr@actionforchildren.org.uk and we will advise.

Contact us

If you have any questions or would like more information, please don't hesitate to contact us.

Support

Anyone accessing records may need time to discuss the content of those records and may need support at that time. We know from experience that accessing records from the past can be very emotional. Circumstances may be distressing and language may be offensive by today's standards. We can advise on help available.

 

Reunions

We hold an Old Boys and Girls Reunion every July to promote links between people who were part of our branches and orphanages, nationally and worldwide. To register for an invitation to this event please email the Engagement team.

 

Negative experiences

Most people formerly in the care of Action for Children have had happy experiences. However, for some people this was not the case. If your childhood experiences were painful, traumatic or unhappy, we would like you to tell us.

Action for Children is fully committed to taking the necessary action when incidents of abuse are brought to our attention. 

 
Best wishes,
 
Clive

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royl

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#18 [url]

Sep 29 13 12:54 AM

Please support this survey
At this time it would seem that AFC are well aware of the need and wish to support us ex NCH residents.   This is all very well until and if, they are forced to choose between their priorities.   At this time surveys such as this one being conducted by Shelagh will be invaluable in bolstering our case. It is for that reason that everyone, and I mean everyone, who has benefitted in any way by seeing their files should contribute here if only to add to the numbers that Shelagh will be able to qoute from.   Any one who feels that they would prefer to tell a story in greater privacy can do it on the Private Forum*.

* If you are not a member of the Private Forum apply to Philip.
If you are going to use the Private Forum it might be better to wait for a couple oif weeks and let the dust settle on the new and somewhat different format.

Roy

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#20 [url]

Sep 29 13 1:24 PM



Thanks Roy.
I had meant to add that anyone who would prefer to add their response via a private message is certainly welcome to, and such privacy will be honored. So I am really glad you added that, Roy.  And as I said earlier.no names will be mentioned in any case unless you wish to be named. I realise that until the upgrading of the forum is completed, it may not be possible to use the PM function for a while, but the survey will be open for as long as is needed, so there's no pressure or hurry about any of this.

Thank you for your support re the whole enterprise, Roy, which I still think is valuable, but I need to let everyone know that Clive has made it clear to me that while the care of the historical records of the NCH as an organization in general may be compromised by current AFC concerns, the obtaining of our personal files remains a priority.  I was not entirely clear about this til now, so if I sounded an alarm about that particular aspect unnecessarily, I do apologise.  Even so, I think this survey is very valuable and I will  write the report for AFC with as many of your responses to the topic as possible. Please keep them coming!

Thank you, Roy and Clive, for your work and concerns, and many thanks to you, Philip, for keeping this forum alive and well!

Shelagh

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