By Claire West

The £6m Family Restoration Fund to help reunite former child migrants with their families was formally launched today by Health Secretary Andrew Lansley following a meeting with child migrants and the Child Migrants' Trust.

The fund was announced in February at the time of the Government’s formal national apology to former child migrants. The funding, which will cover the practical costs of travel, will be available to any former child migrant who was sent under school-leaving age from Great Britain and Northern Ireland before 1970 to countries such as Australia, Canada, New Zealand and Zimbabwe (the former Rhodesia).

The fund will be administered and supported by the Child Migrants' Trust, which has today also been awarded £450,000 in additional funding to expand its work in family tracing, social work and counselling services.

Andrew Lansley said

“I am glad to be able to launch the £6m Child Restoration Fund on behalf of the UK Government today, after so many years of struggle for recognition and acknowledgement by child migrants and their campaigners.

“For far too long, the trauma and suffering experienced by former child migrants were ignored. We know that that pain cannot be erased, but I hope that the funds now available will make a real and positive difference to their lives, and those of their relatives, in making reunions possible.

“As a member of the Health Select Committee in 1998, when we took evidence about the dreadful impact on child migrants, I remember how strongly we felt that they should be supported and reunited with their families. It is right, if much delayed, that we are now providing this further help.”

Former child migrant Jackie Honner, said:

"The Fund gives hope to those still waiting to be reunited with their families and will help all of us to develop closer family relationships. This is so important to us, even at this late stage. We live with the painful consequences of Child Migration schemes every single day."

Margaret Humphreys, Director of the Child Migrants' Trust, said:

''The Child Migrants' Trust welcomes this positive initiative which addresses the painful legacy of Child Migration for individuals and families. The Family Restoration Fund is a significant and practical step in bringing families together and healing the deep wounds of separation.''

In order to meet the anticipated demand for support, priority will be given to first-time family reunions and urgent cases such as end-of-life situations for the first twelve months of the fund.