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The Norwood charity was an Anglo-Jewish charity, founded in London in 1831 that became Norwood (Norwood Ravenswood) in 1996.The current charity has evolved from the Jewish Orphanage and Hospital at West Norwood, London and the Ravenswood charity for learning disabilities, into a provider of more than 120 specialist services, delivered by 1200 staff and supported by around 700 volunteers around the UK.
East End originsB. & A. Goldsmid started giving aid to poor and sick Jewish children at Mile End in 1806 - London's major Jewish community at the time was rapidly growing with new immigrants from the Continent. His work drew private donations from London's Jewish community, enabling the foundation of a Jews Hospital for the Aged Poor and the Education and Employment of Youth'' in 1831. After merging with the Jews Hospital (Neve Tzedek, founded in 1807) it sought a new site away from the unhealthy conditions of the East End of London, and was given nine and a half acres of freehold land in the then-rural setting of Knights Hill, West Norwood, by Barnet Meyers.
Orphanage in NorwoodMore donations funded the building of a new Jewish Hospital and Orphan Asylum at the West Norwood site, and on 6 June 1861 Sir Anthony Rothschild laid the foundation stone for a three-storey red brick and stone building in the Jacobean style. The new institution included a hospital, orphanage, small synagogue and a school for the residents and day children. It was extended at various times in order to meet the needs of the thousands of children who were placed there over the years, including the two-storey Arnold & Jane Gabriel Home for younger children in 1911.In 1901 the institution obtained Royal Patronage.The institution was renamed the Norwood Jewish Orphanage in 1928, and became known to a wider audience through the annual London taxi-drivers' day trip to Southend with orphan children. (These trips to the sea-side in balloon-decorated taxis were initiated by Mick Cohen, a taxi driver who had grown up at the orphanage. He founded the associated London Taxi Drivers Fund for Underprivileged Children'')During World War II the children were evacuated to the countryside, turning the building over to the London Fire Brigade for their training. West Norwood was bombed many times, but the buildings survived the war intact - although the imposing gateway facing Knights Hill was deliberately demolished for better access by fire engines.In 1956 it changed its name again to the Norwood Home for Jewish Children.
Move from NorwoodIn the decades following it became apparent that long-term institutional care was no longer appropriate for most of their children, and in the 1970s the buildings and land were sold to Lambeth Borough Council. The income generated from the sale was used to fund other activities, including much smaller residential homes for children, adolescents, and mothers, operating under the name of the Norwood charity. In the 1980s the focus of services moved towards non-residential care, fostering and social work, and most of those homes were sold.
In 1996 Norwood merged with the Ravenswood charity that cared for children and adults with learning disabilities, becoming Norwood (Norwood Ravenswood), providing non-residential, residential, and domiciliary services for disadvantaged or disabled children. There is a 'Norwood Old Scholars' Association' for children who grew up in the orphanage.Of the home itself very little is left; Lambeth demolished the main building and used most of the land for the Hainthorpe Estate. The 1962-vintage synagogue remains in secular form as Norwood Hall and still displays its Star of David, while a small gatehouse survives in the same style as the original orphanage. The Arnold & Jane Gabriel Home has become offices for the London & Quadrant Housing Trust. at present the norwood organisation is based at four main sites. three in london,these being in hackney,redbridge and the main office in stanmore, and the ravenswood village in Berks.
Current servicesNorwood is now based in Stanmore. Its services cover five main areas:
Capital to Coast bicycle ride Each year Norwood organises a charity bike ride called the Capital to coast from Esher to Hove around the middle of July. Between 2000 - 3000 people take part including the Designer Jeff Banks. Tha hardest part of the ride is Devil's Dyke, Sussex which includes a long steep bike ride to the top, rewarded by great views of the south coast, and from where it is all down hill.
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