Stories from adults who have been in care2018-06-19T10:28:36+00:00

Stories from adults who have been in care

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The stories of adults who have been in care are frequently those of separation, loss and rediscovery.

The experiences of some of the former pupils of the Foundling Hospital,such as the separation from foster families, corporal punishment and the emotional deprivation suffered at school can be shocking to us now. But, when viewed in the context of the time, sadly, they are not unusual.

Listening to their stories helps us to understand the long-term needs of the vulnerable children we help, so that they can have better chances and go on to lead happy and fulfilling lives.

Choir at the Foundling Hospital

Foundling Voices oral history project

The Foundling Voices project brings together the stories of people who grew up in the care of the Foundling Hospital in the first half of the 20th century.

The project, which was funded with a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, comprises oral history interviews with 74 former Foundling pupils, plus one teacher, the children and partners of the Foundling pupils and townspeople from Berkhamsted who could remember the school.

The audio interviews and their accompanying transcripts are stored at the London Metropolitan Archives, where they can be accessed by members of the public.

Most interviews are between two and four hours long. They follow a life story format, covering people’s early lives spent with foster families in the countryside, the years they spent living in the Foundling Hospital from the age of 5–14 and the experience of leaving the Hospital and making their way in the world. Later experiences including meeting partners, starting families and the searches that people made for their birth families are also covered.

…as we got into the school gates I said: ‘I will be able to come home tonight, won’t I?’ And as we got off the coach the boys were shepherded one way, the girls the other. And she said: ‘Be a good girl’ and she kissed me and she was gone. – Ruth, who went to the Foundling Hospital School in Berkhamsted in 1942

Several films highlighting different aspects of the foundling story were made as part of the Foundling Voices project. These films combine sound extracts from the oral history interviews with photographs from the Foundling Hospital archive or images lent to us by former pupils

You can listen to excerpts from the oral history interviews and view the films on the Foundling Voices website.

Coram marching band

Old Coram Association

The Old Coram Association (OCA) was set up in 1947 to provide an opportunity for former Foundling Hospital pupils to keep in touch with each other.

Today, members of the OCA are fomer Foundling Hospital pupils, their foster parents, and their spouses and descendants.

To find out more visit the OCA website.

The audio interviews and their accompanying transcripts are stored at the London Metropolitan Archives, where they can be accessed by members of the public.

Most interviews are between two and four hours long. They follow a life story format, covering people’s early lives spent with foster families in the countryside, the years they spent living in the Foundling Hospital from the age of 5–14 and the experience of leaving the Hospital and making their way in the world. Later experiences including meeting partners, starting families and the searches that people made for their birth families are also covered.

…as we got into the school gates I said: ‘I will be able to come home tonight, won’t I?’ And as we got off the coach the boys were shepherded one way, the girls the other. And she said: ‘Be a good girl’ and she kissed me and she was gone. – Ruth, who went to the Foundling Hospital School in Berkhamsted in 1942

Several films highlighting different aspects of the foundling story were made as part of the Foundling Voices project. These films combine sound extracts from the oral history interviews with photographs from the Foundling Hospital archive or images lent to us by former pupils

You can listen to excerpts from the oral history interviews and view the films on the Foundling Voices website.