History of the Partnership Founders
Hope Community Project was founded as a partnership between the Infant Jesus Sisters (a religious order within the Roman Catholic Church) and Father Hudson’s Society, now Father Hudson’s Care, (the social care agency for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Birmingham).
Hope Community is now an independent charity with the same ethos and values.
The vision and spirit of the founders of the two organisations, and the men and women, who have followed in their footsteps, is important to understand the uniqueness of the project.
Background to the Infant Jesus Sisters and their founder Nicolas Barré
Nicolas Barre was born on 21st October 1621 in France. He was a Catholic and eventually became a monk.
Nicolas founded the Infant Jesus Sisters in 1662 in Rouen, France. At that time half the children in Rouen died of famine. Many were homeless and wandered the streets as beggars, and for some prostitution was the only means of livelihood.
Nicolas was very aware of what was happening around him – especially among the most destitute – and he felt called to make some response. He conceived the idea of a Charitable Institute for those who had no access to any form of education, and were generally neglected by society. The first helpers taught reading, writing and practical skills, but their primary purpose was to give religious instruction to children, young people and adults, especially those most in need. The child was the primary focus. Nicolas was insistent that those who wanted to be of service would do so without taking vows and acquiring the status and security which being a religious sister gave. They were to share the insecurity of the poor who did not have a guaranteed income. In this way they would be in solidarity with the most neglected in society.
In keeping with this spirit, members of the Institute gave themselves voluntarily to the work for variable periods of time, from 1 month to a year or more. They visited children in their own homes to see their family circumstances and the reality of their lives.
Today the Sisters continue working with the poor, marginalised and deprived can be found in Birmingham, Burton-on-Trent, Crawley, Horsham, Liverpool, London and Wolverhampton and in many countries throughout the world.
Father Hudson’s Care and Their Founder Father George Vincent Hudson
Father Hudson’s Care is the name adopted in 2015. Known as Father Hudson’s Society since 1984, a name it still uses for legal and contractual purposes, the organisation was established in 1902 as the Birmingham Diocesan Rescue Society for the protection of homeless and friendless Catholic children. At the beginning of the twentieth century, Pope Leo XIII invited bishops from around the world to establish some special work of charity. The Archdiocese of Birmingham responded by asking Father George Vincent Hudson to lead on this work of caring for children. Father Hudson established a network of children’s homes in Coleshill and Birmingham. He was seen as ahead of his time housing children after 14 years old, the usual age of leaving homes, and supporting them into the world of work. Over the 20th century the organisation continued to change and develop, registering as an adoption agency in 1944, opening more work focused homes including one for girls and a farm, providing hospital’s services to serve the whole community focusing on disability and since the 1980’s developing fostering.
In the 1990’s Father Hudson’s developed residential services for older people and disabled people. At the same time the trustees developed new community projects with other like-minded partners, usually religious sisters. Ever since then the trustees have remained committed to this vision. In the community, the Anawim, Hope and Brushstrokes projects have led the way. Other Community Projects established in the last 10 years include New Heights and Maryvale in Birmingham and more recently Young at Heart in Staffordshire, Fatima House in Birmingham, Embrace in Worcestershire and Tabor House in Birmingham.