A History of Norwood

Norwood Orphanage

From a small Mile End boarding school for poor Jewish children, we have become the leading Jewish charity that we are today helping people take control of their lives to live as they choose, no matter what their challenges or disability.


Fund started for relief of Ashkenazi poor in London.


The Jews’ Hospital (Nvei Tsedek) opened in Mile End.


Jews’ Orphan Asylum established.


By 1860 there were 100 boys and 40 girls enrolled in the Jews Hospital and Orphans Asylum. The buildings had become run down and the hospital needed a new location.


Move to Norwood.


Amalgamation of the Jews’ Hospital and the Jews’ Orphan Asylum to create The Jews’ Hospital and Orphan Asylum at Norwood.


Aftercare Committee established to supervise the welfare of Norwood school-leavers.


Orphan Aid Society established to collect funds for the Jews’ Hospital and Orphan Asylum.


Major extensions to Norwood – Centenary Hall and new wings added to enable the institution to accept more children.


Norwood school under the auspices of The Department of Education, leading to improved status and teaching standards.


Arnold and Jane Gabriel Home for 50 5-8 year olds opened, increasing the number of children at Norwood to about 400.


Norwood renamed The Jewish Orphanage.


Evacuation – first to Worthing, then to Hertford.


Return to Norwood, with children now attending local schools.


Ravenswood residential school established when a house in Crowthorne was purchased by four families to provide care and education for four 11 year old boys and sows the seeds for Ravenswood Village. The parents founded the Jewish Association of Parents of Backward Children which later became known as The Ravenswood Foundation.


The Jewish Orphanage changed its name to Norwood Home for Jewish Children.


Norwood Family Houses established in the neighbourhood between 1957 and 1961, enabling small numbers of boys and girls to live as family groups with their house parents.
1958 Ravenswood Village expands with the purchase a second home for older boys and a farm outside Crowthorne.


Norwood acquired nine houses, and 100 children are accommodated in the family homes to give children a homely environment with the affection and security they needed. Norwood Orphanage is demolished. A new synagogue and assembly hall is built in its place.


Norwood takes on Highbury House Babies’ Home and other child welfare services formerly provided by the Jewish Welfare Board.


Norwood establishes a Hostel for Unmarried Mothers.


Norwood incorporated the childrens’ welfare services formerly provided by the Jewish Board of Guardians (Jewish Welfare Board).


Family Houses move to North London. Norwood sold. Norwood Domiciliary service established, using Social workers and Child Development Advisers to support and advise children and families.


In line with current thinking and introduction of Care in the Community, small residential houses within local communities, day-care services, community and social work teams, recreational services, special training, educational and advice services are opened in Barnet, Harrow, Brent and Redbridge.


Local authorities became reluctant to place children in non-state residential care, preferring fostering or their own Children’s Homes. Only three family homes remained by the mid-80′ Ravenswood Village expands and houses matched to the individual needs of residents. A unit for 13-18 year olds, a semi-independent unit for under 25’s and an independent special school for 11 – 19 year olds are added.


Norwood and the Jewish Welfare Board open the Redbridge Jewish Family Service, a new welfare facility providing family support for the local community.


Rav Tov, a drop-in centre for Orthodox mothers and toddlers opens in Stamford Hill.


Norwood embarks on a Jewish fostering project to find foster homes for Jewish families and appoints the first Fostering Recruitment Officer.


Parry House opens, Norwood’s first registered residential home for adults with learning disabilities opens in North East London.


Norwood Jewish Adoption Society established – the only Jewish adoption agency in the UK.


Koleinu (Our Voice) established – a new project for hearing-impaired Jewish young people and their families.


Norwood Family Centre opened in Hendon, offering practical advice and support to families in difficulty. Binoh moves to the centre.


Binoh joins Norwood incorporating a special education and therapy service to support learning and development for pupils in mainstream schools.


The last Family House closed. Two semi-independent units for young people were created to enable young people to learn to become independent.


Buckets & Spades Lodge, a short term break (respite care home) for children with special needs, established as a joint facility with Ravenswood.


Oakfield Link set up to provide temporary supported bed-sit accommodation to homeless young adults.


Norwood and Ravenswood merge to create Norwood Ravenswood, the largest Jewish organisation in Europe specialising in children and family care.


The Karten Centre, a specialist learning centre that provides computer-led education to people with disabilities of all kinds, is opened at Ravenswood.


Norwood Ravenswood opens two new family centres – The Leonard Sainer Children & Family Centre in Redbridge and The Somers Children & Family Centre in Hackney. The family centres social work teams offer counselling and support to over 700 families experiencing social difficulties or affected by disability.


Norwood Ravenswood expertise in the field of childcare is recognised as it is appointed to operate the Adoption Register for England and Wales, on behalf of the Government and the Welsh Assembly Government. The contract ran for three years.


Norwood Ravenswood re-brands to become Norwood: Children and Families First and establishes five service divisions: Ravenswood Village, Learning Disability Services, Special Education Services, Children & Family Services and Fostering & Adoption Services.


The Pears Wing for Children opens at The Kennedy Leigh Centre in Hendon offering a specialist child-based support centre with services for children and their families where they can enjoy confidential access to all the expert help and advice they need. It was named in recognition of a generous donation from the Pears family.


Norwood Binoh launch the Parent Advisory Telephone Helpline PATH, for free initial advice and information for parents concerned about any aspect of their children’s progress or development. The helpline is operated by members of Binoh’s educational psychology team.


Novi Dom a new service pioneered by Norwood and WJR is the first ever respite care facility and educational resource in Minsk for children over the age of eleven with learning disabilities.


The Sensory Garden at The Kennedy Leigh Centre opens giving children with a range of disabilities the opportunity to enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of a working garden – with the added incentive of getting their hands dirty and looking after it themselves. Named after Lea Timothy, a former Norwood employee who sadly died after a brief illness in 2005.


Oakfield Link is converted to new facility in April, providing six adults with a learning disability supported accommodation in line with their wishes to move from registered housing and become more independent.


The Wellbeing Centre opens adjacent to the Hackney Somers Children & Family Centre, offering health and well-being services to the local Jewish Community, in partnership with the City & Hackney NHS Primary Care Trust and Woodberry Down Children’s Centre.


A new inclusive Nursery for children aged two and above opened in September 2008 at the Kennedy Leigh Centre will accommodate children who have disabilities or require additional support as well as children who do not have special needs.


Cherie Blair’s first engagement as Norwood’s Patron of Children’s Services is to officially open Wellbeing at Bearsted at the end of January. Diane Abbott, MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington, also attends along with representatives from the Orthodox Community and Norwood’s partners on the project.


Opened at Ravenswood in December 2008, The Pamela Barnett Centre provides a home for people with profound and multiple learning disabilities who will benefit from facilities designed to accommodate wheelchairs. The adapted environment will assist staff to support the mobility and personal care needs of residents.


The Hope Charity, the London-based organisation supporting children with special educational needs, has joined Norwood’s umbrella of children and family services.


The Tager Centre, a purpose built individual residential service for 16 adults with learning disabilities and profound autism with each service user being offered individualised support opened in February 2009.


JCoSS Special Resource Provision is a 50-place Special Resource Provision which is part of a new inclusive Jewish secondary school (JCoSS) which opened in Barnet in 2010. The RD Crusaders WorkHub, a new centre in Stanmore providing training to people with learning disabilities to help them to enter employment, was officially launched.


The RD Crusaders Work Hub opens in Stanmore, becoming home to Norwood’s Lifelong Learning services, such as supported employment.


Somers Court, a purpose-built designed block of seven flats for up to 14 people with learning disabilities, opens in Edgware. Norwood takes its first UK Birthright trip to Israel with a group of young people with learning disabilities. A new sensory garden at the Kennedy Leigh Family Centre’s inclusive nursery opens.


The Norwood Family Centre in Redbridge re-opens at the South-West Essex Settlement Reform Synagogue (SWESRS). Norwood celebrates Ravenswood’s 60th anniversary with residents, staff and Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks and his wife Lady Sacks.


Norwood opens its first dedicated smart home with Assistive Technology that helps to dramatically improve the lives of residents by enabling them to control their environment.


Norwood is the largest Jewish children, family and learning disability charity in the UK. Our services are delivered to the Jewish community by a workforce of 2,000 people, made up of 1,250 staff and hundreds of dedicated volunteers.

Norwood’s archives

With such a long history of caring for millions of people, it is no surprise that Norwood has accumulated thousands documents and records. These include:

  • Historical documents.
  • Records relating to the Orphanage.
  • Records of the many services it has provided through the years.
  • Information for adopted people about their origins, family background and the circumstances of their adoption.

To find out more about Norwood’s archives, its services, volunteering or making a donation, call Norwood on 020 8809 8809.

Ravenswood Trustees

We also support the Ravenswood Trustees, an independent financial planner for people with learning disabilities to secure their finances.

For more details visit the Ravenswood Trustees website.