Our history

History of St Andrew’s Children’s Society

Founded in 1922

St Andrew’s Children’s Society has operated under a few different names since its foundation in 1922. The organisation at its inception was called The Archdiocesan Social Services Committee and was tasked with co-ordinating a wide range of social services that the Catholic Church in the Archdiocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh provided at the time. This included work with children in adoption and foster care, nursery schooling and residential schooling and residential care for orphans and children of all ages from disadvantaged backgrounds. It was also involved in services for adults such as providing a working boys’ home, probation service and marriage guidance.

The 50s and 60s

In 1952 the organisation changed its name to The Advisory Committee for Social Services and continued to do the above work until 1963 when it was divided into two separate organisations – The Catholic Enquiry Service, dealing with general social services (as above) and The Catholic Social Service Centre dealing solely with adoption and foster care.

During the 1950s and 1960s we placed thousands of babies in adoptive homes who had been relinquished by their birth mothers. It was the prevailing wisdom at the time that children born outside marriage would be better cared for by married couples who would have the time, energy and financial and social stability required for the task. Towards the end of the 1960s however this idea was being challenged and the de-stigmatisation of single parenthood alongside significant developments such as wider use of contraception and the legalisation of abortion meant that there were far fewer babies needing to be adopted.

During this period in the history of St Andrew’s Children’s Society we touched the lives of many thousands of people, and for many of them it was at a particularly difficult time. We hear so much about how women felt compelled to place their children for adoption because their families and society generally could not countenance someone bringing their child up on their own and unmarried. This was clearly the case for many women but we also have extensive records detailing work done with women who decided to keep their children and the agency’s staff were instrumental in helping them do this. In more recent times only a tiny percentage of the women who received pregnancy counselling from the agency did not keep their children.

The early 70s onwards

From the early 1970s our work became more and more concerned with the placement of older children and children with very complex social, emotional and psychological needs from the local authority care system.

Renamed St Andrew’s Children’s Society in 1983

It was in 1983 that the agency changed to our present name of St Andrew’s Children’s Society.

Foster care service established in mid 1990s

In the mid 1990’s St Andrew’s Children’s Society established a foster care service providing permanent foster homes for those children who were unable to be adopted but still needed a family for life. We had, up until then, only provided pre-adoption fostering for small babies so this new service was seen as a way for St Andrew’s Children’s Society to refocus on permanent care in a wider sense than solely adoption.

monochrome photo of the Gillis Centre in the Grange - our location until 2003
In 2003 we moved from the Gillis Centre in the Grange to our current location in Leith

Sexual Orientation Regulations 2009

Our close, historical links to the Catholic Church had to be reassessed when the Sexual Orientation Regulations 2009 became law. St Andrew’s Children’s Society decided that our adoption work was so important to the many vulnerable children who need adoptive homes that we could only continue to operate by adhering to the new legislation. This meant that our formal links with the Catholic Church ceased however our openness to considering, as prospective adopters, people of all faiths and none has also meant that we have been able to place a wide cross section of children in culturally appropriate families and this remains one of our central aims.

Exclusive providers of Safebase© since 2010

In 2010 we became the exclusive providers of a ground breaking parenting programme called Safebase©. This programme is a key part of our suite of services offered to adoptive families to support them in the care of their children.

Aberdeen office opened in 2013

In the 1970s the agency operated a satellite office in Dundee to cover the more northerly reaches of our area of operation but because of financial pressures that base was closed. Ever since then we have been acutely aware of the lack of a choice of adoption services for people who happen not to live in the central belt. Therefore, our adoption service delivered today from our Aberdeen base was established on 2013 meaning that we now operate across the whole of the East of Scotland from the English Border to the Moray Coast.

Helping vulnerable children 1922 – the present day

In all the years of St Andrew’s Children’s Society’s existence it has undergone many changes but the ethos that originally guided those people in 1922 to organise themselves so as to meet the needs of vulnerable children by ensuring that suitable, nurturing and well prepared families were available to care for them is as strong today as ever

When you meet us, we look like a normal family, and we are. But we owe SO much to St Andrew’s Children’s Society, because it is through them, that we ARE a family! In 2014 we adopted our daughter. To us, it was a miracle!