Our history

In 1869, the Reverend Dr Thomas Bowman Stephenson saw some children living rough under the arches of Waterloo Station

Instead of walking by, he stopped to listen to their stories. Then he worked out the most practical way to help.

Dr Stephenson was a Methodist minister from the North East of England. He was also passionate about social justice. So when he moved to London, he challenged the Methodist Church to take action to help children living on the streets.

His work led to the creation of the National Children’s Home (NCH). In 1994 we became NCH Action for Children. We’ve been Action for Children since 2008.

Meet Fred and George the first two boys to be taken in by Stephenson

Fred and George, the first children Dr Stephenson rescued from the streets in 1869

The first children in care

Fred and George were the first children Dr Stephenson helped in 1869. It was a time of widespread poverty, with many vulnerable children sleeping rough or facing the workhouse.

He was soon supporting more and more children. He moved to Bonner Road, London, in 1871 where he later established the National Children’s Home. This was a place where vulnerable children were fed and cared for. It was a safe place to spend the night.

Were you previously in our care?

Find out about our Annual Reunion

Today we support 765,905 children, young people and their families in the UK every year. We do this through 426 services in local communities, in schools and online. Wherever you find us, we’re doing what’s right for children.

Rev John Wesley, founder of the Methodist movement, said: “Go not only to those who need you but to those who need you most”. Later, Dr Stephenson promised to work “in the service of the children”.

These principles continue to inspire us today.

Over 4.3 million children in the UK live in poverty

Child poverty is real. But you can help.

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Methodist partnership

Since we were founded, our partnership with the Methodist Church has been a great source of inspiration.

Methodists generously support us in so many ways including:

Our board of trustees and national committees in England, Scotland and Wales have at least one Methodist representative. We also give reports to The Methodist Conference.

We’re proud of our partnership with the Methodist Church, and grateful for the generosity of our devoted supporters. Their kindness never ceases to amaze us.

Karis Kolawole, Faith Partnerships Lead