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History

Formally known as Father Hudson’s Society, Father Hudson’s Care has been committed to the protection of children and adults in great need since 1902. 

Father Hudson’s Care was established by Fr George Vincent Hudson in 1902 as the Birmingham Diocesan Rescue Society for the protection of homeless and friendless Catholic children. The organisation changed its name to Father Hudson’s Society in 1984, a name it still uses for legal and contractual purposes. Since 2015 it has been known as Father Hudson’s Care, with care at the heart of all that the charity does.

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Fr Hudson was a remarkable man and an exceptional priest, 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. At the beginning of the twentieth century, Pope Leo XIII invited bishops from around the world to mark the new century by establishing some special work of charity. The Archdiocese of Birmingham turned to Fr Hudson to lead the work of caring for children.

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.

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.

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. Today this is known as transition, but it was a new concept in the early 20th century. Fr Hudson organised the construction of St Vincent’s working home for boys in Highgate, Birmingham to support them in beginning a career. There was plentiful work in this industrial centre and the young men could have obtained better paid labouring jobs, but Fr Hudson wanted to offer vocational training in a trade to improve their long term prospects.

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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 at the time. In 1944, new legislation enabled the Society to become a registered adoption agency. Adoption placements became a significant part of the work, reaching a peak during the 1950s and ’60s.

During the two decades following World War II, the Society built a new working hostel for girls, bought the Priory Farm in Studley and expanded St Gerard’s Hospital to serve the whole community, focusing especially on disability. During the early part of 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 and all child migration stopped in 1956.

In the 1970s and early ’80s, institutional care began to be replaced by foster care and adoption; 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.

/media/whoweare/library/wp_20180226_11_49_48_pro.jpgBy the late 1990s it was clear that the old buildings were no longer suitable for the care of older people or disabled adults. The Day Service moved to the refurbished old St Edward’s school building in the mid-1990s. The Society decided to create a new care home for older people, St Joseph’s, 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.

The first three lay Chief Executives led the development of new services. In the community, the Anawim, Hope and Brushstrokes projects pioneered this approach. Working closely with two parishes, the Society established the New Heights and Maryvale community projects in Birmingham. In recent years, Father Hudson’s has worked with other charities, local groups and others to develop community projects that meet local need. 

In 2006, Father Hudson’s developed the first Family Support in Schools project in Staffordshire. This was quickly followed by more school projects, now operating in Banbury and Birmingham. In the 1990s Father Hudson’s set up New Routes, a small fostering project specialising in placing older children and groups of siblings. New Routes has grown steadily and has achieved superb results and recognition.

/media/whoweare/library/dsc_3517.jpgWhen 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 St Vincent’s apartments were built in 2015. This was the beginning of the Domiciliary Care service.

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. The charity built new offices, St George’s House, and ten new apartments for adults with learning disabilities 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.

Through its history, Father Hudson’s Care has become increasingly aware of its responsibility for people who stayed in the care homes, were adopted or migrated to Australia as children. Many of these people 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.

Father Hudson’s continues to change and develop its services to respond to ongoing needs in our society.

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