Who was Lucy Faithfull? Celebrating 30 years of The Lucy Faithfull Foundation

25 July 2022

As we celebrate 30 years of The Lucy Faithfull Foundation, we look back at the life of our founder. Find out more about our history in our anniversary booklet.

Our founder: Baroness Lucy Faithfull OBE (1910 – 1996)

The Foundation was the inspiration of Baroness Lucy Faithfull – the ‘mother to hundreds’ who dedicated her life to protecting children from harm. When she was six, Lucy’s father passed away and her young mother moved back to the UK from South Africa. Lucy attended boarding school and later obtained a social science diploma from Birmingham University.

In 1932 she started working with children in Birmingham as a social worker. During the Second World War she worked in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire, dealing with the children’s evacuation and return home. She received an OBE in 1972 and was made a life peer in 1975, warning others she may well not toe-the-line – which indeed was true.

Lucy’s legacy – a peerless peeress

Perhaps the greatest achievement of her career was the Children’s Act of 1989. She created and chaired the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Children, and worked on the Act for a decade – drafting discussion documents, White Papers and finally the Bill itself.

One of few female peers, she fought hard to bring others round to her cause. In fact, she was affectionately nicknamed ‘Lady Faithless’ by the Tory whip, exasperated by her persuasive opposition to some government policies.

It’s easy to take for granted the protection the UK affords its children, but many child welfare and protection policies are relatively recent. Lucy Faithfull’s fingerprints can be found in legislation ranging from children’s welfare to the criminal justice system, as the first social worker to make it to the House of Lords.

She combined her strength of character with great warmth, and was by all accounts great fun. On what was to be the final visit to her (octogenarian) cousin in the States, they bought a red sports car. She never married or had children, but had countless friends of all ages.

She was utterly fearless in pursuing the most controversial causes including the unpopular, but vital, rehabilitation of men convicted as abusers of children. In 1992 she founded The Faithfull Foundation, just four years before her death.

Without her determination and vision our Foundation simply would not have become the force it is in protecting children from sexual abuse.

In her own words

“When I was about six I remember standing in the nursery of some friends and realising that things were not quite right. I said to myself: ‘All my life, when I am grown up, I am going to work for children who are not happy.’ It really does seem the most extraordinary thing for a young child to say, but I can remember the moment, I can remember the place. And really, I have never deviated from that and here I am, still doing it, at the age of nearly 80!” Lucy Faithfull

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