The funding, which covers the practical costs of travel, is available to any former child migrant who was sent unaccompanied under school-leaving age from Great Britain and Northern Ireland before 1970 to Commonwealth countries.
It is estimated that child migration programmes were responsible for the removal of over 130,000 children from the UK to Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia) and Australia.
The Family Restoration Fund was announced in 2010 at the time of the government’s formal national apology to former child migrants.
The fund is administered by the Child Migrants Trust, the key charity focused on family tracing, social work and counselling services for former child migrants and their families.
The fund has so far supported over 700 former child migrants and their families to travel to be reunited. By 2017, the government estimates that the fund will have helped around 1,000 former child migrants and many thousands of family members.
Health Minister Dr Dan Poulter said:
We can never forget the hardship and heartache experienced by children and their families as a result of misguided child migration schemes.
The Family Restoration Fund has already reunited so many former child migrants with their relatives. We can’t undo the past. But we can help to reunite families that were torn apart so unjustly and completely. I’m pleased to announce the fund will run until 2017.
Director of the Child Migrants Trust, Margaret Humphreys, said:
Former child migrants and their families will welcome this positive step. Restoring a sense of family life is vital after years of separation and the Fund is a lifeline for hundreds of families. It adds real substance to our national apology.
Child migration was a feature of British social policy for many years. Legislation allowed children in the care of voluntary organisations and local authorities to be migrated to Commonwealth countries, often without the knowledge or consent of their parents.