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"The Croft was like being a family without being family ... You are starting again. You are starting afresh and you could be who you wanted to be"

"It was a very good environment, in particular for the time when having a baby as a single parent you were very much a second class citizen and looked down on."

"Good memories, good memories, It was what I needed... I mean I dread to think what might have happened to me if there wasn't the The Croft at the time "

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About The Croft
About The Project

The Children of The Croft Oral History project started in January 2012 with the recruitment of a team of adult volunteers drawn from History, Arts and Creative Writing backgrounds. After taking part in a three day Oral History training programme the team shared tasks from researching and carrying out Oral History interviews to putting together the Museum Exhibition at Nottingham Castle, which even involved  filming a reconstruction of a day in the life of The Croft to complement the interviews.

Over the course of the year, the team managed to find and interview ten women who lived at The Croft for any length of time between 1969 and 1973. We also interviewed one 1977 tenant of another Family First house situated a few doors down from The Croft, a mother who stayed at a more traditional 'penitentiary style' Mother and Baby home in the late 1960s, two women who worked at The Croft during the 1970s and its founder, Ruth I Johns.

The stories together give a rich and varied picture of the experiences of mothers bringing up children on their own during difficult - perhaps unsympathetic - times. They provide important firsthand accounts of topics such as trying to find suitable long-term accomodation, struggling to survive on welfare benefits, juggling work and childcare arrangements and returning to education to build a better future: all challenges which chime with single mothers today.

Extracts from the stories were first showcased in an exhibition at The Nottingham Castle Museum (November 2012 - January 2013) via an audio-visual display, photographs and information panels. A selection of audio clips are available to listen to on this website and full versions of the interviews, along with logs and transcripts, are housed at The Nottinghamshire Archives and the Nottingham Local Studies library.

The 'Children of The Croft' Oral History project was conceived and run by Now Heritage Community Interest Company with the generous financial support of the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Emma Golby-Kirk and Barbara Reed

Project Leaders