Coram marks Black History Month

  • 1 October 2020

Coram is marking Black History Month by reflecting on our history, celebrating Black culture and taking the opportunity to share the views and experiences of the Black children and young people we support.

There’s a host of activities and resources including top picks of inspirational children’s books chosen to celebrate Black History Month, training toolkits for schools to give insight into issues facing migrant children, plus videos from young people on the significance of food, culture and identity. To find out more about activities across the Group, and for details of training for professionals, visit our Black History Month page.

We have also been taking a look at the Foundling Hospital’s fascinating archive to understand more about the insitutition’s past.

Carol Homden, Coram’s CEO, said: “Earlier this year Coram decided to take the opportunity presented by the issues raised by the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement to examine all relevant aspects of our practice and reaffirm our commitment to delivering an inclusive and diverse environment for all of our staff and service users.

As well as working to ensure we incorporate equality and diversity best practice across the Group day-to-day, we have been examining Coram’s archives in the light of renewed interest ignited across our community by BLM.

WIth thanks to historian and writer Carol Harris, we have been looking at the lives of Black children at the Foundling Hospital in our early days, with a view to better representing the stories of all the children who came to be in its care. We have also looked at the lives of some of our earliest supporters and the sources of some of the financial support given to the charity at the time, including fortunes built on the slave trade.

On our Coramstory website we have documented some of the information we have found. This is just a snapshot taken from our archive as we begin to uncover more about the organisation’s past, expand the historical narrative of the institution and reflect on how this knowledge can inform our future. Already some interesting themes have emerged.

It is difficult to trace the lives of Black, Asian and ethnic minority children admitted to the Hospital because the ethnicity of children was not routinely recorded, so research is based on the occasional references and incidental notes which appear throughout the vast archives.

With regard to our earliest supporters, it is clear that some of our patrons in the 1700s were either involved with or built their wealth directly from industries supported by the slave trade, and did not see any contradiction between this and their support for social progress in the shape of the Foundling Hospital.

However uncomfortable, this is part of our history. We remain committed to understanding and recognising this complicated past and our work will continue. Coram today strives to champion equality, diversity and inclusion, tackling discrimination and building social justice in all that we do.”

Find out more at Coramstory here (see sections Thomas Coram, Foundling Hospital Governors and Black Lives, and Black Lives at the Foundling Hospital.)