Our history

Since 1987, CMT has worked to address the devastating impact of British child migration schemes. The Trust's mission is to ensure that former Child Migrants enjoy the same rights, responsibilities and opportunities as the vast majority of their fellow citizens.

Timeline of our History

You can view a full interactive timeline of CMT's history by clicking here.

The letter that started it all

In 1986 Margaret Humphreys, a Nottinghamshire social worker, received a letter from a woman who claimed that at the age of four she had been shipped to a children's home in Australia. She wanted help to find her relatives in Britain.

The woman didn’t know much about her early life: only that she’d grown up in Nottingham and after her parents died, she had ended up on a boat to Australia with lots of other children, all orphans.

Margaret agreed to research the woman’s family and find her parents’ graves. Instead, she found the woman’s mother alive, living not far from Nottingham – and she gradually uncovered the full scale of Britain’s child migration history.

Restoring dignity and raising awareness

Armed with the truth of forced child migration in Britain, Margaret formally established the Child Migrants Trust in 1987.

Since then, the Trust has worked to give former child migrants vital, basic rights which most of us take for granted - a knowledge of their family background, a full birth certificate, clarity about their citizenship status and the opportunity to reunite with their family.

CMT provides a range of services for former child migrants. Many need skilled help to cope with a childhood of profound loss in cold, harsh institutions. Similarly, reuniting with family members after decades of separation requires sensitive preparation.

CMT has also campaigned to raise awareness of the long-term impact of child migration schemes, playing a key role in securing two national apologies to former child migrants in Australia in 2009 and in the UK in 2010.

CMT today

The struggle for appropriate recognition and redress isn’t yet over, and CMT continues to campaign for those impacted by Britain’s child migration schemes. You can learn more about current campaigns, and get involved, here.

Covers of Lost Children of the Empire, Empty Cradles and Oranges and Sunshine

Learn more

Over the past four decades, Margaret Humphreys and the Child Migrants Trust have published and contributed to many books, articles and films detailing the child migrant experience and the history of CMT. You can find a selection of these here.