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The Vegetarian World Forum

THE VEGETARIAN No. 1 Vol. 3 - SPRING 1949

VEGETARIAN CHILDREN'S HOME
Hanworth Walker

How many vegetarians know that there is in England a Children's Home run on vegetarian lines, and of those who have heard of it, how many have shown an active interest in its work?

So far as we know, this is the only Vegetarian Home for Children in the western world, the south of India holding two others. It can therefore rightly claim a place amongst the pioneers of the movement along with the Vegetarian Cycling Club and Springfield House at Wycliffe College, where Mr. W. A. Sibly, M.A., J.P., our new President, has done such excellent work. The former has proved that athletic endurance is possible on a vegetarian diet, and the latter that public school life does not suffer physically or mentally from a fleshless diet, and we here are proving that children from infancy can be satisfactorily raised on it.

Such a Home, therefore, merits wholehearted support from all vegetarians, for the success of our policy can add considerably to the prestige of the movement.

Whereas, if it were to close down from lack of funds, the critics would readily say that it was a failure of vegetarianism. There is therefore more in this Home than the caring for necessitous children, and we commend our work to those vegetarians for whom the vegetarian Way of Life is more than a mere personal diet.

THE PAST

The Home was started by a great-hearted lady, Mrs. Thompson, who, in 1890, opened the basement of her house in Liverpool to those children whose only home was the streets. Though sixty years of difficulty and opposition it has kept its doors open and its children cared for. Now, coincidental with the Children's Act, the Home starts a new chapter in its history, and it is this aspect that we particularly deal with now.

The year 1948 saw the Home face its most difficult crisis, and it would have closed down but for the few who were faithful and undaunted. War years, differences of opinion and many changes of staff had taken their toll, and the work and reputation of the Home had, consequently, suffered. The house had become dilapidated, the children's clothes and bed linen were either in bad repair or non-existent, and the children treated as they were in the old institutional days, being herded together in one bare room with nothing to occupy little hands and minds beyond picking holes in the walls out of sheer boredom.

This, then, was the position when the new matron and warden took over the running of the Home on November 1st, 1948, and agreed to take on the formidable task of bringing the Home into line with Home Office requirements and make it as good a Children's Home as any.

During the first few weeks the task, and the Lancashire climate, seemed almost too much for them, but the worst is now over, and the following has been achieved:

THE PRESENT

The whole house has been opened up to the children and different age-groups given separate rooms, the toddlers in the play-room where they can romp and destroy to their hearts' content. The older children from four to ten now use the newly started school-room, where they have educational games, constructional toys, a piano to experiment on, and books. This room, admirably suited to its purpose, was the little-used dining-room. It is now in constant use, the girls playing with a fine collection of plastic furniture, and the boys with trains, aeroplanes and motor-cars. Also in this room they paint, draw, model in plasticine, and learn road paint, draw, model in plasticine, and learn road sense from miniature road signs and traffic.

With this rearrangement, the children are happily occupied, better behaved, and sleep more soundly, while enuresis and night-terrors have completely stopped. Morning exercises and corrected breathing have brought brighter expressions and improved health. A weighing, machine and a sun-ray lamp help in the effort to keep the family in excellent health, this department being administered by the new matron who is a State Registered Nurse and Hospital Gold Medallist.

The children's clothes have been well repaired, new outfits purchased, bed linen has been mended and new supplies bought. Our children now go to day school or Sunday school as well dressed as their playmates from private homes, for it is our aim to help these children work out any handicap they may bear on account of their early misfortunes in life that they may eventually take a normal and balanced place in society. To this end the Home is run as much like a private home as possible, the warden and matron acting as father and mother; taking an affectionate and individual interest in each child. The children have already entertained their school teachers, Sunday school teachers, and school friends to tea, the latter almost filling the house over week-ends.

A start has been made on redecorating the house: no small job when there are twenty-two large rooms, passages, bathrooms and lavatories to repair, paint and distemper.

THE FUTURE

Now to outline our plan for the future. First we must raise funds to pay for the foregoing, for much of the expense has been incurred in the faith that the means to pay will be forthcoming. The redecoration of the house must continue without delay, and dull, bare walls give way to cheerful colours and delightful pictures.

Then, and very important, the toddlers playroom must be equipped with miniature furniture and suitable facilities for growing strength and experiment such as a climbing frame, seesaw, and chute. At the moment it has only very old cut-down furniture add broken toys.

In the garden we will build a paddling pool and sandpit, for we encourage the children to play outdoors as often as the weather permits, and for the cooler weather footballs and fairy cycles will give them fresh-air exercise.

In short, we need all those things which will make this a Children's Home worthy of our children and worthy of the vegetarian movement.

The small staff, taking their work as a vocation, are doing their utmost, to bring this about, and we now call upon all vegetarians and child-lovers to take theft share of responsibility and further this admirable cause.

Further information will be readily supplied to those seeking it, and a copy of our diet sheet, approved by a world-known vegetarian doctor, will be sent on request.

AN APPEAL

In conclusion, we must point out that this Home does not come within the scope of State aid or assistance from any local authority, and we do not qualify for Family Allowances. Apart from small maintenance contributions from some parents, we depend entirely upon the goodwill and generosity of our friends who send their support from all over the world.

Because of the growth of our family, now numbering twenty, and the considerable cost of the improvements planned we shall endeavour to augment the monies we receive from outside sources by starting a Day Nursery. This will not only earn us a small weekly sum, but will also render a service to the local community from whom we have only taken in the past. Then, when this is well founded and with the experience gained, we hope to go a stage further and open a nursery school; but neither of these attractive and useful schemes can start until we have sufficient funds for the necessary equipment. The moderate fees will cover the salary of the additional necessary staff.

We are forging ahead with the programme in the sure faith that the enlightened readers of this magazine will only need to learn of our need to help us bring these plans to full fruition.


The proprietor of The Vegetarian feels it a great privilege to bring the very deserving case of this Children's Home to the notice of readers, and knows the response will be immediate and generous. Gifts, both of equipment and money, should be addressed to:
The Warden (Mr. Hanworth Walker), Orchard Dene, Rainhill, Liverpool.


 

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