We have been helping children and young people grow up healthy and happy since 1891. 

Originally called the Poor Children’s Holiday Association (PCHA), our purpose was to offer support to the poor children who lived in Newcastle and Gateshead to give them a ‘hand up, not a hand out’, an ethos we continue to pursue.

How it all began

John Lunn & John Watson, founders of Children North East

Our founders, local men John H. Watson, Cashier to Newcastle Corporation, and John T. Lunn, a Shipowner’s Manager (both pictured above), were concerned about the health of poor children living in the Newcastle slums. In 1891, Lunn wrote an open letter in the newspaper to Watson, making a practical suggestion on how to help:

“… Are there any street lads in your Mission to whom a day at the seaside would be a treat? If so, we might organise a trip”.

Following this letter, 120 children from inner city Newcastle & Gateshead had a day trip to Tynemouth.  The idea caught the public’s imagination and very soon weekly trips were being organised, paid for through public donations.

Very quickly the charity was organising longer holidays for sickly children to stay with farming families.  The PCHA set up clubs for street children including food, fun and education; and a night shelter for homeless children.  The charity also offered training and work to give street children hope and a future.  In 1906 the PCHA opened the first TB Sanatorium for children in England at Stannington, Northumberland which ran until World War ll.

Later years

For most of the 20th Century the charity owned and managed nine children’s homes, the last of which closed in 1991.  The charity was renamed Children North East in 1988 and since then has focussed on supporting children in their families, schools and communities and challenging social policy.

Want to be a part of our history? 

Sign up to be a volunteer