For our 125th Anniversary year, we commissioned a booklet showcasing Welcare’s work through the years up until present day. Click the image below to read the booklet in full screen.
In 1894 the Bishop of Rochester, Randall Davidson, and his wife Edith launched the Diocesan Association for the Care of Friendless Girls, which would eventually evolve into Welcare.
Welcare serves the whole of the Diocese of Southwark and the London Borough of Bromley, parts of which are in the Diocese of Rochester. We also provide services in the Hampton Deanery which is within the Diocese of London.
The Diocese of Southwark encompasses urban South London, which includes a huge variety of ethnicities, socio-economic and cultural backgrounds, with parishes stretching into East Surrey. It is one of the most multicultural and diverse dioceses in England. For more than 1,000 years the area covered by the present Diocese belonged to the vast Diocese of Winchester.
In 1877 it was added to the Diocese of Rochester and it was in 1894 that Randall and Edith Davidson launched the Diocesan Association for the Care of Friendless Girls, although the outreach work with unmarried mothers at a local level had started before that.
In 1905, the Diocese of Southwark was created to include the whole of the county of London south of the Thames and the Parliamentary divisions of East and Mid Surrey.
In 1914 the organisation became the Southwark Diocesan Association for Prevention and Rescue Work to avoid confusion with the Girls’ Friendly Society and to bring the organisation into line with other diocesan societies doing similar work. A major reorganisation of the local associations took place in 1965 to bring them in line with the new London Boroughs.
In 1970 the name Southwark Diocesan Council for Wel-Care was adopted, later shortened to Welcare although our full charity name is Southwark Diocesan Welcare
The nature of the work of Welcare has changed considerably over the years.
By 2006, twelve independent local Welcare associations had merged to form a larger charity capable of tendering for contracts to deliver local services for families and children, focusing on areas of work that voluntary organisations could deliver more effectively than statutory services. It is Southwark Diocesan Welcare which continues the work in South London and East Surrey today.
Throughout the decades our role has progressed and developed to ensure we are reflecting the needs of the communities where we work. As the needs of troubled children and families in London have transformed, so too has the way we respond to those needs. We have moved away from mother and baby homes to focus on preventative work and life skills development, doing everything we can to keep families together.
While we have every reason to be very proud of the many achievements, initiatives pioneered and sheer hard work and determination of our predecessors, we are a charity that is looking to the future.
Our services have broadened to include the whole family and the focus of our direct work with children now includes a greater emphasis on building emotional health and well-being. This is especially important for young people as they make the key transition into secondary education and adolescence.
The charity which has emerged from the global Covid-19 pandemic is an organisation focussing on core interventions that are proven to be successful in making a long-lasting difference including parenting programmes, domestic abuse recovery and the Caring Dads programme, and developing partnerships with schools – working through them with children and parents in need. The work of Welcare will continue to evolve reflecting changes in society, but what underpins our work is our mission to improve the lives of children and families damaged by social isolation, domestic abuse, financial hardship and other disadvantages.
As we imagine life for future generations, we are proud of our work which gives children secure and confident childhoods and builds long-term resilience, for when the children of today become the parents of tomorrow.
A short history of Welcare since 1894 cannot do justice to the work and tenacity of thousands of supporters. However, we include one personal account below to illustrate the work to secure the work of Welcare in East Surrey.
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