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Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0074 ACC/2538
Held at: London Metropolitan Archives
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Date(s): 1948-1986
Level of description: Collection
Extent: 3.33 linear metres
Name of creator(s): Southwark Diocesan Council for Wel-Care x Rochester Diocesan Association for the Care of Friendless Girls x Southwark Diocesan Association for the Care of Friendless Girls x Southwark Diocesan Association for Preventative and Rescue Work x Southwark Diocesan Association for Moral Welfare


Administrative/Biographical history:

Southwark Wel-Care was founded in April 1894 as the Rochester Diocesan Association for the Care of Friendless Girls. At that date the present Diocese of Southwark was part of the Diocese of Rochester. Its object was to endeavour to link together the various associations, homes, and workers engaged in rescue work throughout the Diocese and to start new efforts where required. Helpers, both paid and voluntary, were needed. Outdoor work was carried out by paid trained rescue workers responsible to the local Ladies' Executive Committee, who visited "girls in their own lodgings, in the common lodging houses, and houses of ill repute". Many of the local associations ran maternity homes and refuges. 125 Kennington Road was acquired on lease in 1903 as a "Central Home". It housed the Diocesan Office and provided accommodation for rescue workers, and training facilities for ladies interested in rescue work. Local associations were responsible for collecting and expending their own funds, but many could not exist without help from the Central Association.

In October 1904 a new constitution was adopted. The two central Committees, one of men and one of women, were replaced by a Council. In 1905 the Diocese of Southwark was created from the western part of the Diocese of Rochester. Accordingly in May 1905 the Rochester Diocesan Association for the Care of Friendless Girls was dissolved and then immediately re-formed as the Southwark Diocesan Association for the Care of Friendless Girls. In May 1914 it changed its name to the Southwark Diocesan Association for Preventative and Rescue Work.

Two diocesan homes were directly responsible to Council. The Diocesan Medical Home was founded at Wolwich in 1913 for the treatment of young girls suffering from venereal disease. It moved in 1918 to 80 Stockwell Park Road and closed in 1935. The Diocesan Maternity Home opened in 1928 at Stretton House, Grove Park. It was evacuated during the Second World War to Limpsfield, Surrey and returned to Grove Park in 1946 as the Diocesan Mother and Baby Home. It closed in 1976. Other homes were run by local associations.

The Diocesan Association adopted a new constitution in 1915 whereby representatives elected by local branches came onto the Council. In February 1932 it changed its name again to the Southwark Diocesan Association for Moral Welfare. A major reorganisation of the local associations took place in 1965 to bring them in line with the new London boroughs. In 1970 the name Southwark Diocesan Council for Wel-care was adopted.

The nature of the work of Southwark Wel-Care has changed considerably over the years. At first its aims were to help and restore the mothers of illegitimate children, to rescue prostitutes and to save young women who were in danger of being led astray. In 1914 a special branch of the association was formed to help children in moral difficulty. This was known as the South London Committee for the Protection of Children, later the South London Association for the Moral Welfare of Children. Its work was transferred to the London County Council Education Committee in 1950.

By 1934 more emphasis was being place on the welfare of illegitimate children including the advisability of adoption in certain cases. The bulk of the work was concerned with assisting mothers during their pregnancy and helping them to support and bring up their child afterwards. Unless the mother was able to return to her own parents or to take her baby with her when she went into service, many children had to be placed with foster mothers. The number of adoption increased after the Second World War reaching a peak in the 1960s, followed by a dramatic decline.

Official concern over the increased number of illegitimate births during the War was expressed in the Home Office Circular 2866 of October 1943. This requested local authorities to assist voluntary agencies caring for illegitimate children and their mothers. The social legislation of 1946-1948 did not provide services specifically for unmarried mothers and their children other than certain medical and maternity care which was given to all mothers.

In many areas local authorities gave grants to assist Diocesan councils for moral welfare, and worked in close co-operation with them. From 1971 assistance for one parent families came within the responsibilities of the new local authority social services departments. In 1975 the object of Southwark Wel-Care was defined as being to promote the welfare of one parent families and other families with similar problems. Its provision took the form of casework service, mother and baby homes, and housing projects such as flats for unsupported mothers.

A considerable influence on the work of Southwark Wel-Care has been exercised by the successive organising secretaries, the principal official based at the Diocesan office. In 1971 this post became that of Director. The following women held this position: Frances Hogg (1894-1912)
H M Morris (1912-1924)
S E Pinney (1925-1928)
Lila Retallack (1929-1934)
K Bromhead (1934-1951)
M A V Raynes (1951-1964)
Phillis Thomas (1964-1976)
Janet Evanson (1976-)


Scope and content/abstract:

Records of the Southwark Diocesan Council for Wel-Care, 1948-1986, including Diocesan Office files; Saint Mary's House minutes; local association records including Wandsworth Association minutes and reports and Caterham and Godstone Association case records and other papers.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

Records arranged according to association.

Conditions governing access:

These records are available for public inspection, although records containing personal information are subject to access restrictions under the UK Data Protection Act, 1998.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copyright to these records rests with the depositor.

Finding aids:

Please see online catalogues at:

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Deposited in 1987 (Acc/2538).

Allied Materials

Related material:

See also records of other welfare associations: Kensington Welfare Association (reference A/KNW); London Diocesan Council for Welcare (references A/LWC, ACC/1478, LMA/4178 and LMA/4299); Southwark Diocesan Council for Welcare (reference ACC/2201) and Enfield Wel-care (reference ACC/2776).

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:

Rules or conventions:
Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
July to October 2009

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