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Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0074 LMA/4248
Held at: London Metropolitan Archives
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Date(s): 1842-2000
Level of description: Collection
Extent: 14.49 linear metres
Name of creator(s): Invalid Children's Aid Association x ICAA | Invalid Children's Aid Association
Invalid Children's Aid Nationwide x I CAN | Invalid Children's Aid Nationwide


Administrative/Biographical history:

Invalid Children's Aid Nationwide (I CAN) is a national registered charity (number 210031) for children with speech and language difficulties. The charity began as the Invalid Children's Aid Association (ICAA) on 26 November 1888, founded by Allen Dowdeswell Graham, a clergyman, to help poor children who were either seriously ill or handicapped. In 1888, he wrote 'Poverty is bad enough, God knows, but the poor handicapped exist in a living hell. It's up to us to do something about it'. Allen Graham organised a group of home visit volunteers who took food, bedding and medicine to children and their families, and helped arrange admissions into hospitals and convalescent homes, holidays, apprenticeships, and the loan of spinal carriages, wheel chairs and perambulators. Royal patronage began in 1891 and continued throughout the 20th century.

As the Association grew, volunteers were gradually replaced by professional social workers and 'Homes of Recovery' were set up, where the treatment of children with tuberculosis and rheumatic heart disease was first pioneered. The first of these residential establishments was Holt Sanatorium opened in 1906 and Parkstone Home for boys was opened in 1909. In 1935, the ICAA helped publicise the need for immunisation against diptheria by holding a conference in London. The ICAA worked closely with the London County Council in providing Care Committee Secretaries to the Schools for Physically Handicapped Children, and acting as an agent for the tuberculosis 'TB Contact Scheme' from 1925. During 1939 to 1945, the Association was involved in the special arrangements for the evacuation of physically handicapped children to homes or selected foster homes.

The National Health Service Act 1948 introduced financial support for medical care and appliances required by the Association's social workers, enabling greater concentration on providing casework support to help alleviate the stress experienced by families with handicapped children. The Act also led to the transferral of the Association's Heart Hospital, which had been opened in 1926 to the Health Authorities and the gradual replacement of convalescence by short term holidays.

In the 1950s the Association's motto was 'To every child a chance' and aims were:
"1. To collect and put at the disposal of parents and others, all information with regard to the care of invalid and crippled children, and the facilities which exist for their treatment.
2. To co-operate with doctors, hospital almoners and others by reporting on those aspects of the child's social background which are relevant to the understanding and treatment of the illness.
3. To assist parents to carry out the doctor's advice with regard to treatment by :-
a) Arranging convalescence where necessary.
b) Helping them to understand, and where possible rectify, any adverse social conditions that may exist.
4. To help in the re-establishment of the child in normal life.
5. To visit the seriously invalided child."

With improvements in health care, the Association also began to concentrate on the educational problems arising from specific disabilities or chronic illness. In 1961 the Association organised an International Conference of Dyslexia and in 1964 the Word Blind Centre, Coram's Fields, was opened to study dyslexia and other reading difficulties. This led to the formation of the British Dyslexia Association.

By 1981 the ICAA was maintaining five residential schools for children with special educational needs. It also ran a central information service, which provided free advice, and hired publications and films, and centres run by social workers in London and Surrey offering support to families with handicapped children. Social work services were run partly through grant aid from local authorities, and included Keith Grove Centre, Hammersmith which was opened in 1967, and Grenfell House Social Work Centre in 1981.

In 1983 a Curriculum Development centre was opened for the research of teaching materials for children with speech and language disorders. The ICAA also expanded its area of work to include the Midlands and the North East with the opening of Carshalton Family Advice and Support Centre and regional offices.

In 1986 the ICAA was renamed as I CAN. In the late 1990s I CAN delivered a range of direct and partnership services to help children by pioneering work in special schools, nurseries and centres within local schools and by providing training and information for parents, teachers and therapists. In 1999 there were 25,000 children with severe and complex speech and language impairment, with only 14 specialised schools available in the country, I CAN managing three of these at Dawn House School, John Horniman School and Meath School. In these schools I CAN employed teachers, speech and language therapists, educational psychologists, care staff and social workers. In the financial year April 2000 to March 2001 the charity's gross income was 6,151,000, and expenditure was 7,035,000. I CAN has been involved in national projects such as 'Changing lives', an initiative launched in 1999, aimed at changing 'early years' provision to support 1,200 children in 2002.

Schools managed by ICAA and I CAN:
- Meath School, Surrey, established 1945, for junior boys with severe asthma and other respiratory disorders, later from1982 for pupils with speech, language and communication difficulties.
- Pilgrims School, East Sussex, established in 1955, for senior boys with severe asthma and eczemia (the only specialised school for these conditions in England and Wales).
- John Horniman School, West Sussex, established in 1958, for children with severe communication disorders including hearing impairment.
- Dawn House School, Nottinghamshire, established in 1974, for children with hearing impairment.
- Edith Edwards House School, Surrey, established in 1956, for children with severe communication disorders and behavioural difficulties.

Royal patrons
1891 Princess Mary of Teck (later Queen Mary);
1953 Elizabeth II.

Before 1957 Duchess of Portland;
1957 Princess Margaret.


Scope and content/abstract:

Records of the Invalid Children's Aid Association (ICAA), later known as Invalid Children's Aid Nationwide (I CAN), including:

Central Administration (LMA/4248/A) records which include: minutes, agendas and indexes of the committees of both ICAA and I CAN; a series of finance records, mainly ledgers and cash payment books; Director's correspondence files; reports; casework histories; books for applications for aid and holiday placements; and records concerning clinics, homes and the Word Blind Centre run by the ICAA.

Branch (LMA/4248/B) records which cover some of the divisions and branches of the ICAA including, in the London Area, Islington, Shoreditch, Stepney and south London, and in the County Area, covering Essex, Kent (mainly Woolwich), Middlesex (mainly Tottenham), and Surrey.

Schools and Homes (LMA/4248/C) records which cover the administration of residential special schools and homes run by ICAA and I CAN, including Dawn House School, Edith Edwards House School, John Horniman School, Pilgrims School and Meath School, and consists of minutes of governors, admission registers, children's ledgers, and visitors books, as well as log books for Brooklands Home School for Delicate Children, Clevedon School, Broadstairs, Kent, and Hamilton House School, Seaford, East Sussex.

Printed Material and Audio Visual (LMA/4248/D) records which includes a variety of printed material including annual reports, bulletins for the Word Blind Centre (1963-1972) and publications including those not produced by the charity but related to the work or requests of ICAA, and a catalogue of items in the Victoria and Albert Museum (V and A)'s Beatrix Potter collection relating to the charity, school magazines, photographs of schools, children, Royal visits and other events, video and film footage including children's activities at Edith Edwards House School, Surrey, and a comprehensive range of press cuttings on the charity's work.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

The collection has been arranged into the following sections:
Central Administration LMA/4248/A,
Branch LMA/4248/B, Schools LMA/4248/C,
and Printed Material and Ephemera LMA/4248/D.

Conditions governing access:

Access to this material is only by written consent of the depositor, the Chief Executive, I CAN, 4 Dyer's Buildings, Holborn, London EC1N 2QP.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copyright to these records rests with the Corporation of London.

Finding aids:

Please see online catalogues at:

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Records deposited in 2000 and 2002.

Allied Materials

Related material:

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:
June to August 2010.

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