Our history

In 1869, the Reverend 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.

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.

Stephenson’s 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 Stephenson rescued from the streets in 1869

The first children in care

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

Stephenson 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.

Today we support 604,885 children, young people and their families in the UK every year. We do this through 512 services in local communities, in schools and online. Wherever you find us, we’re doing what’s right for children.

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

These principles continue to inspire us today.

More than four million children in the UK live in poverty

Help give them a proper childhood

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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 a report to The Methodist Conference every year.

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, Head of Faith Partnerships