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The Croft brought sunshine

Anyone who has seen the film Oranges and Sunshine will understand instinctively why the topic of Now Heritage's first project Children of The Croft is of such immense social significance, exploring, as it does, the experiences of some of the first generation of lone mothers who were empowered through support they received at The Croft* to choose the course of the future for themselves and their babies.

The Croft brought sunshineThe film, in contrast, tells the true story of what happened when Nottingham Social Worker Margaret Humphreys uncovered the child migration scandal which saw thousands of children from British orphanages shipped off to Australia to lead supposedly better lives, when in reality they had fallen victim to a mass slave labour market which robbed them of their childhoods and left them traumatised for life.

To add to the injury, many of the children were not even orphans; they had been given up by desperate single mothers who at least thought they were giving them a chance of a more secure future through adoption into a loving family, never suspecting for a moment the sinister governmental betrayal.

Not surprisingly, the heartbreak was deeply felt on both sides when, from the 1980s onwards, so many mothers and children were reunited through the painstaking efforts of Humphreys' Child Migrant Trust.

But perhaps most shocking of all is the fact that the last illegal shipment of child migrants left British shores as recently as 1970. It is with the benefit of this hindsight that so many women who found refuge with their babies at The Croft during the late 1960s / early 1970s (now in their sixties themselves) feel 'there but for the grace of God went I'. For the support they received in the form of a self contained flatlet under the same roof as other lone mums, as well as a resident more mature family, gave them the security needed to be able to actively shape the future for themselves and their babies. It was such a beautifully simple idea, yet in those austere and moralistic times when most of the other mother and baby homes resembled Victorian penitentiaries, the project was described by the Home Office as 'a revolutionary idea'.

The Children of The Croft will explore the stories of the women who passed through The Croft from the late 1960s to the early 1970s, seeking to define the role it played in shaping their lives and the futures for their babies who, in adulthood, are a living embodiment of its powerful legacy.

*The Croft was a non-institutional home for unsupported mothers and their babies, which was set up in the leafy residential area of Alexandra Park, Nottingham in late 1960s by the ground breaking charity, Family First. It offered grass roots support to young mothers, allowing them to take charge of their own lives and positively shape the future for themselves and their babies.

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