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Respected and protected securing a better future for all children

The UK has a long and proud history of supporting and pioneering children’s rights and welfare both in this country and across the world.

350 years after the birth of our founder, Coram believes that now, as much as ever, those rights need protection. Children must be better supported to act as agents in their own lives and to navigate the new risks they face if we are to secure a better future for us all. Thomas Coram challenged the prejudices of a society which tolerated child poverty and abandonment as necessary evils, stigmatised unmarried women and their illegitimate children, saw violence, addiction and servitude as mainstream, and was yet to recognise the need for girls even to receive education or have rights of inheritance.

In the early 18th century, at a time when thousands of infants were abandoned in London alone because their mothers were unable to care for them as a result of poverty or illegitimacy, Thomas Coram campaigned seventeen years for a Royal Charter, enabling him to establish his charity ‘for the care and maintenance of exposed and deserted young children’.

That children’s lives are significantly better in the UK than they were three centuries ago is not in doubt but the cycle of emotional deprivation and loss, tangible inequality and deliberate exploitation still places young lives at risk. This must not be tolerated as if it were inevitable.

In too many countries, including our own, some still children remain “exposed and deserted”. Whenever it occurs, the experience of violence and abuse can be life-changing. There are 11 million children in the United Kingdom. This is the highest number ever but also the smallest proportion of under 18s in history; the few must not be overlooked by the many and children’s interests cannot take second place to adult concerns.

As the first ever children’s charity and the birthplace of children’s social care, reaching more than a million beneficiaries each year, the Coram group has an exceptional historical perspective and works at the forefront of developing new ways to help children to thrive.

This call for change highlights some of the challenges facing children today, the changes that we want to see and what Coram is doing to effect that change. This forms part of the vision for 2040 outlined in our Charter for Children to work with others from our regenerated campus as a national centre of excellence for children.

We address the issues faced by looked after children, those in care and leaving care; those whose needs are not met and whose voices are not heard; children at risk of family breakdown or in need of permanent loving homes, who often wait too long for the support or placement they need; children denied the education they need to develop or lack support to realise their potential; and children with uncertain immigration status living in fear and insecurity. All children may be at risk if they are hidden from view.