I used to love telling the story when I was teaching RE - and my classes were truly interested in what this man did to help destitute children. You can read much more about the charity here, and here
In 1866, over 5,500 people died from a cholera outbreak in London. Thomas John Barnardo had just arrived in London to train as a medical missionary. During the epidemic, he visited the homes of the poor to comfort the dying. This drew his attention to their plight, and he began preaching in alehouses and on street corners. His sermons were often met with abuse, and he was frequently pelted with rotten eggs, and even physically attacked. Undeterred, he opened the East End Juvenile Mission in Stepney - a 'ragged school' where children could get a basic education. He never did get to go abroad as a medical missionary - God had work for him to do in the UK.
150 years on that work has grown and grown
2016 marks 150 years since Thomas Barnardo founded the charity. Since then it has helped hundreds of thousands of children to grow up happy and healthy – but sadly, there is still more work to do.
Dangers old and new threaten young people but, through generous supporters, Barnardo’s will always be here for children in need. As the UK's leading children's charity, Barnardo's worked with 240,000 children, young people and families last year.
With support from ordinary people, over 960 vital services are run across the UK, including counselling for children who have been abused, fostering and adoption services, and disability support. Dedicated staff and volunteers tailor every Barnardo's service to meet the individual needs of children, but each has one vital thing in common: a belief in the potential of every child and young person to thrive – no matter who they are, what they have done or what they have been through.
Over the entrance to the homes that the good doctor set up to provide a loving, secure family life for these children hung a sign reading
No destitute child ever refused admission
It is sad that so many children in our country need the help of Barnardo's - but I am so grateful to God that the charity continues to provide love and support to these little ones. Happy Anniversary, Barnardo's - and while there are still children in need, may you always be there to show them care and help.