Our History

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

Originally called the Poor Children’s Holiday Association (PCHA), our charity offered support to Tyneside children living in poverty. Then, as now, our ethos was around giving them a ‘hand up, not a hand out’.

Our founders, John H. Watson, Cashier to Newcastle Corporation, and John T. Lunn, a Shipowner’s Manager, 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, with a practical suggestion of 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 Newcastle & Gateshead enjoyed a boat trip on the river 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 sick 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 youngsters.  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.

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 we have focused on supporting children in their families, schools and communities and on challenging social policy.