The Introduction introduces two main themes; first, the experiences of and attitudes to unmarried mothers and their children in twentieth-century England stressing the diversity of those experiences at all times and challenging stereotypes about the mothers and about the history of the family. Secondly, the history of a voluntary organization, established in 1918 as the National Council for the Unmarried Mother and Her Child, still active as Gingerbread, stressing it as an example of the continuing importance of voluntary action in the Welfare State and that voluntary and state welfare have always been complementary in their provision for unmarried mothers and children as in many other areas. They have not been antagonistic as much ‘Big Society’ rhetoric suggests.
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