International Help for Children
This Charity was founded in 1947 with the principle intention of giving holidays to needy British and European Children affected by the 2nd World War especially refugees and those thrown into poverty by the effects of war. It continued to operate for 53 years when it was converted into the Margaret McEwen trust. During the course of 53 years the nature of IHC's activities changed somewhat and the present projects of the MM Trust are different from the original activities of the Society.
A detailed account of the Founding is given below
Click on underlined subjects below for more information
In 1944 Margaret McEwen helped to pioneer a scheme for bringing over Dutch children who were suffering from the effects of the war. She began work in a room of Walter Herriot & Co. but by 1945, when 100 children were arriving each week and committees had been formed in every large town, the number of staff grew to twenty-five and they took over new offices in Portman Square. In 1946, one of the Honorary Secretaries, Mr Stormont Murray, introduced Margaret to a friend of his - John Barclay - and within short time John was appointed Liaison Officer for the camps, where the children stayed before going into private families, Gradually Holland was restored, and in 1947 the Society closed down. 10,000 Dutch children had stayed in Britain. As Margaret had been involved from the beginning she asked for and was given the records and contacts of the defunct Society. Five former members of staff (amongst whom was John Barclay who eventually cofounded IHC) met together to discuss the possibility of launching a new scheme on a broader international scale and particularly to include British children.They now had the contacts, valuable experience, a skilled book-keeper and a secretary and at least for a short time free premises in a building about to be sold. The new Society was based entirely on the pattern and methods of administration of this Dutch scheme which was essentially a war charity set up to relieve suffering.
Three years of previous experience in providing relief for Dutch children just after the war had revealed a valuable source of hospitality and good-will amongst the many British families anxious to help under-privileged children. When the Holland scheme was wound up, John and Margaret wrote to all those who had supported it asking for help for the new organization to continue similar work to the Dutch scheme, but extending to all children whatever their nationality, including British children. The widest title they could think of was International (meaning the whole world!) Help (not described too minutely in order to give us scope) for Children. Of course in 1947 all the suffering seemed to be in Europe as a result of the war and our present concern with poverty and hunger in Africa and Asia had not yet taken root in the National consciousness.
It was with this valuable basis that on a gloomy night pouring with rain on 19 September 1947, in a hotel basement room in Southampton Row, London, John and Margaret launched International Help for Children. A small group of people pledged support and backing with more optimism and kindness than real hope. Amongst these was Sybil Thorndyke, the actress, who became Treasurer. They opened their first bank account with only one hundred pounds and support was so painfully slow in coming that had it not been for an unexpected donation of three hundred pounds, they would soon have given up, The office in Southampton Row was a large dusty room with a spluttering gas fire, rent free on condition they made themselves scarce whew the space was needed. On these occasions it was necessary to retire to the landing where the Secretary, Miss Thelwall, worked by balancing an ancient typewriter on her knees. In 1948 came another move into Parliament Street, and funds began to flow in more abundantly, Local Committees as usual formed the backbone of the work and Continental parties started to arrive in impressive numbers, However, they also arranged for British children, still badly affected by the war, to go to Belgium, Luxembourg and France. A year later Little Pond House, founded as a convalescent home in Tilford, near Farnham, Surrey was purchased and opened with Janet and James Joyce as the first wardens. The aim of IHC has always been to remain small and not to overlap with larger organizations, looking as always for children in need whom no-one else is helping.
Early Projects - Underlined projects have links giving further details.
1948 2 parties from France, 1 Italian, 1 Belgium were received in Reigate, Sutton, Lewes, Epsom, Tunbridge Wells, Gt. ............... Yarmouth, Welwyn garden City, and Plymouth
British children were sent to Switzerland (50), France (160), Belgium
(253), Luxembourg (19) and asthmatics were sent as a
group to the French Spa town of La Bourboule.
311 German children, 39 Italians and 104 French were given hospitality in England.
1950 583 children from Greece, Germany, France, Denmark and Italy came to England while 375 British children were sent ........ abroad.
As a result of the Greek Civil war a party of crippled and under
nourished children was received in England and 14
.remained for long term care.
(The Greek Story)
75 British children were sent to Oslo, Stavanger, Tonsberg and Copenhagen for 4 weeks.
426 children were received from France
1952 - 1990 Work continued along these lines throughout this period - a summary follows below. Schemes of special interest are listed and have links to further descriptions
Our work in Italy
Work with Refugees
Special Medical Treatment
The Florentine Floods
Summary of International help for Childrens Recuperative Holiday Scheme
European Parties to Britain
A total of 10,195 children from AUSTRIA BELGIUM DENMARK FRANCE, GERMANY, GREECE, HOLLAND, ITALY, NORWAY, YUGOSLAVIA were invited for recuperative holidays by British families organized by 129 voluntary local Committees in:
Aberdare Aberystwyth Alton Ashford (Middx)
Banbury Barnes (London) Barnstaple Barry (Wales) Barton on Humber Bath Bcckenham Bedford Bexley Bingley Birkenhead Birmingham Brentwood Bristol Broadstairs Burton on Trent
Cambridge Canvey Island Cardiff Chelmsford Cheltenham Chichester Chipping Norton Croydon Cwm
Dover Dudley Dundee
Ealing Eastbourne Ebbw Vale Edinburgh Edmonton Eltham Enfield Epsom Exeter
Finchley Fleet Folkestone
Gerrards Cross Gloucester Grays Great Missenden Guildford Great Yarmouth
Harpenden Harwich Haywards Heath Hereford Herne Bay Hitchin Huddersfield Hull
Ilford Ipswich Isle of Wight
Keighley Kettering Kirkby Lonsdale
Leeds Leicester Lewes Lewisham Luton
Macclesfield Maidenhead Manchester Mansfield Merionethshire Merthyr Tydfil Morpeth
Newbury Newham Newport (Mon) Northwood
Ongar Oswestry Oxford
Pembroke Penzance Perivale Plymouth Pontardulais (Wales) Portsmouth Purley
Reading Reigate Richmond Rickmansworth Rochester Rugby Ruislip
Saffron Walden Salford Salisbury Send Sevenoaks Sheffield Slough Southampton Southend South Shields Stepney Stockport Sunderland Sutton Swanage Swansea Swindon
Taunton Tenby Tilbury Tunbridge Wells
Wallasey Wandsworth Wareham Watford Welling Wellingborough Welwyn Garden City West Ham (London) Wimbledon Winchester Worthing
British Children to Europe
A total of 4115 (including the asthmatic dhildren) went to: AUSTRIA GERMANY NORWAY BELGIUM HOLLAND SWITZERLAND DENMARK ITALY YUGOSLAVIA FRANCE and LUXEMBOURG
MEDICAL CASES Individual children from: AFRICA INDIA PAKISTAN BOLIVIA IRAN POLAND CYPRUS ITALY PORTUGAL ETHIOPIA KATHMANDU SRI LANKA EGYPT LEBANON TURKEY GREECE MAURITIUS and W. INDIES were treated in the U.K. or in their own countries
LITTLE POND HOUSE A children's convalescent home in Surrey which received children from Europe, medical cases and British children from 1948 to 1972.
BRITISH ASTHMATIC CHILDREN Several hundred children were treated in the Spa of La Bourboule, France in the heart of the Auvergne Mountains from 1948 to 1986. The majority of the patients visited the Spa for 3 consecutive years, some even for 4 years.
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