The Margaret McEwen Trust
Charity No:- 1074955

Contact for Information:-  0845 644 4712

This trust was officially founded on 10th January 1990 by Margaret McEwen MBE to continue the work of
 International Help For Children (press for information on this charity),
 founded in 1947 by Margaret herself and John Barclay.   As no official record of the charity has ever been made the aim of this website is to document the work both of the MM trust and IHC and to say something of the many remarkable people who were involved with the charity.   At present it is in the course of preparation - other pages will be added as they are prepared. 

The aim of the Trust is to provide relief for children who are in need, hardship or distress wherever they may live, frequently on an individual basis but mediated through a known friend or contact of the organization.  It is these people whose own work in their own country has done so much that make the story of the MM Trust and its predecessor International Help for Children, so interesting and thus worthy of  this account.

The MM Trust was recently amalgamated with the Little Pond House Trust which was also an integral part of the International help for Children story.

At present the combined trusts are supporting the following projects.  The descriptions of asterisked charities are from their official websites.

The McEwen Fund (Kenya)
The fund has helped about 400 children in the last 12 years.  It operates out of Nairobi administered by Jeremy Watkins-Pitchford.   The aim has been to provide medical care for children who otherwise would be unable to afford it, and many of its beneficiaries are the children of single mothers or unemployed parents who have no income available for whatever treatment is required.   Patients are selected on the request of doctors, nurses and friends, from press articles or local TV stations.   At Gertrude's Children's Hospital which deals with many of the cases the appeal often comes from a member of the senior nursing staff.

Future Hope (Calcutta)*
Future Hope was set up over eighteen years ago to provide a home, education medical aid and opportunity to some of the children of Kolkata who found themselves living on the streets of the city. These children suffer extreme poverty and have little or no ability to change their lives. More than anything they need the love and security of a home. Future Hope now runs six homes where more than 200 former street children live and enjoy life.   The work of Future Hope extends beyond our homes and they also run a school with over 150 pupils studying from Kindergarten to Class 10. Our school takes in not only the children of Future Hope but also those from the surrounding slum communities.   They have also built a small community development on the outskirts of Kolkata. This allows those who have found jobs to take on a small home and develop independent life skills in a safe environment close to their friends.   Sport, and rugby in particular, has always played a major role in Future Hope and it is through sport that they have been able to develop discipline and a sense of purpose in many of our children. Children of Future Hope have played at the highest level winning national honours representing India in Rugby . With this in mind they are now working hard to complete our next major project, the Future Hope Sports Academy .

Children of the Andes (Bogota)*
Children of the Andes (COTA) is a UK registered charity that provides support to Colombia’s most vulnerable children by working in partnership with local NGOs.   COTA was established in 1991 to support children living on the streets and in the sewers of Bogotá, following a documentary by the British film-maker Desmond Wilcox.    Today, they have expanded their support to  assist thousands of children affected by poverty and violence and at present much involved with helping young girls who have been victims of the sex trade.   They have a team of five based in our London office, and a further staff member based in our field office in the Colombian city of Cali. The charity is governed by a board of ten trustees.

The Aloysian Boys' Home (Bangalore - India)*
The Aloysian Boys' Home was started in 1981 as an outreach program of St Aloyius College,and as a memorial to its Centenary. It was made possible by the purchase of 6 acres of forest.  The plan was to build an orphanage for rejected boys, for whom fewer facilities exist than for girls. Girls are easier to launch into everyday life, as many of them marry quite young or decide to adopt the religious life. The first task was to sink a deep well, which was an expensive project.   As a result however there is now a plantation growing among other things, coconuts, bananas, papayas, pineapples, breadfruit and jackfruit. There are also 20 well-kept pigs and 15 cows. All these animals are washed every day to limit the spread of diseases. The purpose of having them is to educate the older boys in husbandry. They do bring in a small income, but the cattle are barely profitable due to the low, regulated price of milk.   Additionally there are 300 chickens and a newly built fish pond. The pond was dug so that the boys could use it for growing tadpoles rather than keeping them in jars indoors, which were often spilt or broken and at best released crowds of small frogs jumping around the floor. In the practical manner typical of Sister, the ponds have also been stocked with edible fish, now approaching maturity.   The Home has 110 boys at present aged between 4 and 17. They mostly attend the local state school and Sister works hard to find jobs for them when they leave school. Within the Home they all learn cooking, sewing, domestic cleaning, how to wash clothes and the elements of farm work. The cleanliness of the buildings is remarkable and Sister admits this is the hardest thing to teach newcomers. There are 2 other Sisters to help with the running of the Home and 3 or 4 local women who mend clothes, work in the kitchen and do the gardening.   Two categories of children are being admitted: The first, those whom the police have picked up as runaways, or remanded to custody for petty crimes, or children of criminals who have beeen jailed;  secondly, those children who have no homes of their own, abandoned by parents, or orphaned by their death.   In actuality the distinction is unknown. All the kids are Aloysians ! They have 105 of them- between ages 7-18.    The immediate aim of the Home is to give these boys shelter, food, care and education. The ultimate aim is to given them human diginity by personal care and love, and make them social assets from social liabilities. What is distinctive about Aloysian Boys' Home is its homely, happy atmosphere. The children are fortunate to have Sisters of Charity to look after them.   For their basic education the children go to local schools. Most children begin their schooling only after they come to the home;. hence most of them are over aged for their classes. They mix with other students . This helps in effective socialization. Most of our boys have been doing very well both in curricular and co-curricular activities & inter-school competitions. While they are doing their studies, much care is taken to prepare them to face their future, so they learn farming, looking after the cows, rabbits, pigs and fowls. They grow vegetables and tend a coconut garden. The academic studies will be followed by technical training at St Aloysius Technical Training Institute in one of the trades: tailoring, carpentry, plumbing , welding, electrician. After the completion of the course the boys are capable of holding a job and stand on their own feet.

South West Hospices for Children - Little Bridge House and Charlton Farm*
All the children who use the Hospices will have Life Limiting, or Life Threatening Conditions, which mean that they are not expected to live into adulthood. Some families may use the hospice for many years, from the time the child is first diagnosed, they may come for planned respite, or for emergency care, depending on their needs and the support that the family request.   A child may be referred by anyone who knows the family, all that is asked is that the family are aware of the referral being made on their behalf. The immediate or extended family may refer themselves, and each referral is carefully considered.   Both Little Bridge House and Charlton Farm have 8 child-friendly rooms, and plenty of accommodation for parents and the rest of the family, the aim has been to keep the feel of the hospice as a "Home from Home". In preparing for a child coming to stay the bedroom will be made welcoming with some of their favourite books, DVD's and toys.   The Care Teams at both Hospices are a mix of people from different professions and with a wide range of experience and expertise. The staffing levels allow the team to work with individual children and to plan the day to follow the child's normal routine and care at home.

Starlight Children's Foundation brightens the lives of seriously and terminally ill children by granting their wishes and providing hospital entertainment to help take their minds off the pain, fear and isolation of their illness.When Starlight began in 1987, they helped just 4 children; this year, they will help over 500,000 children all over the UK. Where possible, mums, dads, brothers and sisters are involved to strengthen family bonds at what is often a time of great stress and give everyone happy memories to share, no matter what the future may hold. Starlight receives neither Government nor Lottery support.   If Starlight had just one wish itself, it would be that cures could be found for all the terrible illnesses that can afflict children. Until then, they will continue to provide important medicines of another sort: excitement, fun and laughter

Asthma UK*
The Charity helps by providing the following . advice line; funding research; health Information; influencing government policy, issuing an asthma magazine, arranging children's holidays; publishing reports; community projects;  etc.

Contact a Family*
For families with disabled children.   Across the UK, a child is diagnosed with a severe disability every 25 minutes. Although some children need hospital care, 98% of disabled children live at home with a parent or other family member who may not have expected to be in this position but who has quickly had to become an expert.   When parents find out that their child is disabled they feel isolated and alone because usually they don't know anyone else facing the same problems. They want contact with another family who've been through a similar experience and they want information about their child's disability.   Contact a Family is the only UK-wide charity providing advice, information and support to the parents of all disabled children - no matter what their disability or health condition. They also enable parents to get in contact with other families, both on a local and national basis. Each year they reach at least 275,000 families.

The Charity provides relief and care for children with special needs by means of a holiday or any other such charitable means as the Charity may from time to time determine.

Dream Holidays (Holidays for children with cystic fibrosis)*
Elaine Tozer-Sanders, who herself has a daughter with CF, has undertaken voluntary work for Cystic Fibrosis since 1978.  After finding out about a specialised holiday camp in Canada for CF Children, she  managed to raise sufficient funds to send nineteen CF children on holiday to Canada that year.  Over the next 7 years, the Holiday Fund sent groups of CF children away on holiday not only to Canada but to Disney Land and Disney World in the USA.  Those unable to make the long journey to the USA, were sent to France and centres in the UK.
This was very successful until the early 90's when a new lung infection began to affect CF patients and group holidays were considered to be a problem regarding cross infection within the CF community. Unfortunately, all CF group holidays were banned in the USA and Canada and were discouraged within the UK.  After much consternation, Elaine then decided to discontinue arranging group holidays and to concentrate on sending families away on holiday encompassing those children to ill to have been included on group holidays.  Dream Holidays was then set up in 1993 to send families away as a whole. This has proven to be a great success and is much safer health wise, as CF children are not coming into close contact with each other.   During 2004, Elaine was instrumental in setting up a further Charity (Dream Connection) to grant “wishes” to those children who are too ill to undertake a family holiday. 

The Woodford Foundation*
The Foundation was set up in 2004 to help children and young people with a sensory disability in income-poor countries to become full and active participants in their families and communities. In particular it aims to help those living in areas of extreme poverty by supporting locally accessible education and training, that has been highlighted through community based initiatives. As such, Woodford currently operates in partnership with a number of organisations in sub-Saharan Africa, and with other international NGOs.   Woodford was established by four retired professionals who worked throughout their careers with sensory-impaired children and their families. Their work in the UK also took them overseas, where they witnessed the enormous need for services and support that so few normally have access to. They understand that having a sensory disability can be incredibly isolating and, coupled with the hardships of extreme poverty, can place people's lives in an impossibly difficult and precarious position. Being deaf, blind, or both can mean that you can be ostracised from your community and sometimes from your family. Communication can be limited to only basic and self-taught forms of language thereby increasing the likelihood of marginalisation. Without access to appropriate educational and/or vocational resources such obstacles can lead to a lifetime of dependency and even segregation.   Woodford endeavours to bridge the gap so that those with sensory disabilities have a chance to lead full and active lives within their family, community and the wider world.

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(The pages on this website have been compiled by Anthony Daniel, Trustee of the MM Trust and associated with IHC since 1957)