Father Hudson’s Care is the name adopted in 2015. Known as Father Hudson’s Society since 1984, a name it still uses for legal and contractual purposes, the organisation was established in 1902 as the Birmingham Diocesan Rescue Society for the protection of homeless and friendless Catholic children.
At the beginning of the twentieth century, Pope Leo XIII invited bishops from around the world to establish some special work of charity. The Archdiocese of Birmingham responded by asking Father George Vincent Hudson to lead on this work of caring for children.
Father Hudson was a remarkable man and an exceptional priest who was well ahead of his time in respecting the dignity of children, desiring to give them the best start in life that was possible in their circumstances.
Many people familiar with Father Hudson’s will be aware of the network of homes, especially in Coleshill, that he developed with the support of the Archdiocese of Birmingham, its parishes and schools, and the sisters of the Selly Park Convent over a period of 30 years.
His unique vision enabled him to see that, when young people left the homes at 14 years of age, they still needed support as they began work and looked for a career. This led to the construction of St Vincent’s working home for boys in Birmingham. There was plentiful work in this industrial centre and the young men could have obtained better paid labouring jobs, but Father Hudson felt they needed vocational training in a trade if possible.
Few people now are aware that he also commissioned the building of St Gerard’s, a purpose-built infirmary that later became a hospital, to attend to the health needs of the children, some of whom had suffered neglect.
Father Hudson’s has always responded to the changing political and care environments and the developing models of childcare that were seen as best practice. In 1944, new legislation enabled Father Hudson’s to become a registered adoption agency and adoption placements became a significant part of the work, reaching a peak during the 1950s and 60s.
Over the next two decades the building of a new working hostel for girls, the purchase of the Priory farm in Studley, and the expansion of the hospital’s services to serve the whole community, focusing especially on disability, took place. During this period, migration to Australia was seen as providing an opportunity for a new life, as it had, decades earlier, to Canada. Later, this was not considered to be the best solution for the needs of the children.
In the 1970s and early 80s institutional care began to be replaced by foster care and adoption. This was seen as a much improved model of care for most children.
With many homes no longer usable for their original purpose, Father Hudson’s had to decide where its future lay. After much consultation and prayer the trustees decided to develop residential services for older people and disabled people. This new vision was led by Bishop Pargeter, Chair of the Board. At the same time the trustees developed new community projects with other like-minded partners, usually religious sisters. Ever since then the trustees have remained committed to this vision.
By the late 1990s it was clear that the old buildings were no longer suitable for the care of older people or for disabled adults. The Day Service was moved to the refurbished old school building in the mid-90s. The brave decision was also taken to create the new St Joseph’s Care home for older people and the St Catherine’s bungalows for disabled adults. In 2002 these beautiful new buildings became available and have established great reputations in the local and wider Diocesan community.
Under the leadership of the first three lay Chief Executives, new services continued to develop. In the community, the Anawim, Hope and Brushstrokes projects have led the way. Working closely with two parishes, the New Heights and Maryvale community projects were established in Birmingham.
In 2006 the first Family Support in Schools project was developed in North Staffordshire. This was quickly followed by more school projects. From the 1990s a small Fostering project, specialising in placing older children and groups of siblings, was established. This has grown steadily and has achieved outstanding results and recognition.
When it became necessary to close St Andrew’s, a ten-bedroomed care facility for adults with learning disabilities, the Trustees purchased two properties in Coleshill where the five remaining residents could live until new apartments were built. At the same time the Domiciliary care service was created.
Over several decades, since the children’s homes closed, the Trustees and senior management worked tirelessly to sell the land to enable Father Hudson’s to move forward in an ever-changing social care sector. Under the leadership of Jim Quinn, Kevin Caffrey and Tim Bradford the land was finally sold. New offices have been built and ten new apartments for adults with learning disabilities constructed to progress the vision of Father Hudson’s care as the social care agency of the Archdiocese of Birmingham, serving those in great need in the church and in the wider community. Its commitment to the community is firm and its desire to work with others is clear.
Throughout its history, Father Hudson’s Care has become increasingly aware of its responsibility for those who stayed in the care homes or were adopted. Many former residents or adoptees want to know more about their early years when they were in the care of Father Hudson’s. The Board of Trustees created the Origins service to help each of these individuals and families in their search.
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Father Hudsonís Care provide a range of family support services.Find out more >