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Preparation for employment
in early-mid 20th century children's homes

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The school leaving age in the mid-1900s

Boys and girls left school at fourteen years old and I couldn't wait to reach that magic age, so that I could leave the Children's Home. At last it arrived and in 1941 I left.

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Possible employments

We children had no choice as to what we wanted to do. Automatically girls were placed 'in service' and boys went to work on farms or got labouring jobs and lodgings.

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My own preparation for employment

I was moved into the Matron's house for domestic training, ready for work in service. Although I was already versed in all things domestic because of the chores that the girls in the home had had to do, I had to learn to wait on table.

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My reactions to the employment preparation

I remember feeling that life had again dealt me a duff hand of cards, as there were so many other things I felt I could have made a success of, if only I was given the chance.

However, I was offered a position after six months and I said goodbye not only to the Home but also to my childhood! I was out in the world on my own!

Extracted from the memoirs of Brenda May Wilson (1927-2003), courtesy of her son, Kevin Flynn

Based on childhood recollections of Myton Hamlet Children's Home, Warwick, 1938-1941, probably similar to other children's homes in early to mid 20th century Britain

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