Coram charity awarded £46,000 to help disadvantaged youngsters research history of residential care

Kemi Akinola, Youth Projects Lead at Coram.

Kemi Akinola, Youth Projects Lead at Coram. - Credit: Archant

A historic children’s charity has been awarded £46,000 towards a programme which will see vulnerable youngsters in Camden explore its rich heritage and learn new skills.

Set up in 1739, Coram, the UK’s first children’s charity, runs a supported housing service for people aged 16 to 25 who are homeless or at risk of becoming so.

Coram, which has homes in Kentish Town and near Highgate Cemetery, will use the cash from the Heritage Lottery Fund to pay for a 12-month project to train 50 young people in historical research and conservation.


About 15 will work alongside professional archivists to examine documents and photographs about Coram, held at the London Metropolitan archives.

Their findings will culminate in a performance and an exhibition next year, while there will also be the opportunity for participants to gain an Arts Award accreditation and a vInspired volunteering award.

Coram youth projects lead, Kemi Akinola, said: “The idea was born out of a visit to our museum. The kids really enjoyed it and said why don’t we bring all this information to more young people?

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“I worked with a former young resident to come up with a bid for the funding and luckily we got it.

“A lot of young people have missed out on educational opportunities, so this is a chance for them to get some qualifications.”

The charity began as a hospital for abandoned children on the site of Coram’s Fields, near Russell Square. Children were placed with foster families until the age of five and returned to live and be educated in the Foundling Hospital until they were 16.

After the Children Act was passed in 1952, the Foundling Hospital closed and children were returned to their birth mothers or adoptive families, but the charity has continued to work with children and young people.

As part of the project, participants will meet former residents who stayed at the hospital in 1945.

Ms Akinola added: “This project isn’t just about learning about the charity’s history, it’s about learning how to research and bringing the past to life in an interesting way.”