Remembering the First World War - The Waifs and Strays

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In September 1916, the St Andrew's parish magazine published this notice:

'TO ALLEVIATE WAR DISTRESS

The Church of England Waifs and Strays Society is holding performances if its Pageant entitled "Children through the Centuries" in the Town Hall Chester on the afternoon of Wednesday September 13th and the evening of Thursday September 14th next. It is earnestly hoped that our readers will make a note of the date and endeavour to be present as the proceeds will be devoted to the War Emergency Fund of the Waifs and Strays Society (which has been established to provide homes for children rendered homeless by reasons of war).
The Waifs and Strays Society has already received over 800 children of our sailors and soldiers and applications on behalf of others are daily being received.
Nearly 1,000 of the Society's old boys are known to have voluntarily joined the Navy and Army and six of these have gained commissions, one being promoted to a captaincy. Many have made the supreme sacrifice for their King and Country, including nine known to have been lost at the Battle of Jutland.'

The Waifs and Strays Society had been founded in 1881 by two brothers, Edward and Rudolph de Montjoie to provide homes for destitute children in London. When the Archbishop of Canterbury, Archibald Tait, was made the first President of the Society, it became an officially recognised organisation of the Church of England. The Society grew rapidly and by 1905 it had 93 homes in England and Wales with a total of 3410 children in their care. 2406 of these lived in Society's homes, 259 in affiliated homes and 745 were fostered.

In January 1916, the Society set up an Emergency Fund to support children in families where the breadwinner had been killed in action or suffered debilitating injuries which prevented them from working. The Pageant mentioned above was our local response to their national fundraising appeal.

 

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The Waifs and Strays Society still exists today. In 1983 it was renamed The Children's Society and it now works with local authorities and the youth Justice sector to help children and young people in need in their local communities.

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