Click here to skip to main content.
Discrete CollectionsThe Women's Library
TitleRecords of Gingerbread
Ref No5GNB
Extent23 A boxes, 1 OS box
Admin Biographical HistoryGingerbread (1970-), an organisation for lone parent families in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, was started in 1970 by Tessa Fothergill. Its establishment came about as a result of economic difficulties she experienced and which prompted her to write an article in a leading Sunday paper. The response from hundreds of single parents in similar situations saw the establishment of Gingerbread as a grass roots self-help organisation for single parents enduring hardship. The organisation functioned as a self-help community development organisation for one-parent families regardless of age, sex, race, disability, religious or political persuasion. The main aims of the organisation were: to offer lone parents and their children practical and emotional support, and to speak out for them in the media and politics. Gingerbread was a UK-wide organisation with a national/branch structure. In Jan 1971, 70 lone parents met at the Blackfriars' Settlement in London where the first Gingerbread conference was organised, for Apr 1971, and a caretaker committee was elected for 6 months. In 1972 a central office was opened at 9 Poland Street, there were 65 groups across England Wales and Scotland. The national office had 4 members of staff who produced 10 advice leaflets - they also responded to the Law Commission's Working Party on Family Courts and the Government's Paper on Tax Credits. In 1973 'Ginger' the national magazine was launched; the Charity Commissioners turned down a request for Gingerbread to be a registered charity. Also in 1973 Gingerbread contributed to the debates around the forthcoming Finer Report on one-parent families with the policy statement 'One Parent Families - A Finer Future'. In 1974 the Government Committee report on One Parent Families 'the Finer Report', with 230 recommendations to improve the circumstances of one-parent families. Also in 1974 Voluntary Services Unit of the Home Office awarded funds for the appointment of an Information Officer. 1975-1976 6,000 attended major demonstrations in London and Edinburgh, 3,000 went to Gingerbread's first holiday venture at Primrose Valley in Yorkshire; 10 Regions were established; the first residential weekend seminar held; Gingerbread Holidays was registered as a charitable company; EEC funding was obtained to set up a playschool for the Croydon Group; regional office was opened in Glasgow, funded by the Voluntary Services Unit of the Scottish Home Office; The Unit One Trust was registered as a charity (giving grants to one parent families) whilst Gingerbread continued to apply for charitable status. Between 1977-1980 the Northern Ireland Gingerbread was established; the Social Policy Committee drafted a Private Members Bill on 'Maintenance Enforcement'; the Department of Heath & Social Services gave funding for the national office; membership cards were introduced; 5,000 attended a self catering holiday in Prestatyn; 17,753 enquiries were answered in 1979; evidence was given on the Supplementary Benefit review 1979 and the Law Commission's Paper on 'Financial Consequences of Divorce'. Gingerbread finally registered as a charity in 1981 (number 282512) maintained by lone parents. By 1982 there were 11 staff and income had risen (from £5,170 in 1972) to £91,000. In 1983 the Department of Health & Social Services gave £750,000 as part of the 'Under 5s Initiative Fund' to fund 4 new nurseries; give capital improvements to 2 existing nurseries; to create a crisis child-care centre; and fund a finance officer and Day Care Development Officer. In 1984 Lord Winstanley became the first President. Between 1984-1985 20 seminars were held; Gingerbread Scotland became autonomous; Gingerbread responded to the Government's Matrimonial and Family Proceedings Bill; the Green Paper on 'Reform of Social Security - 'Responding in the Dark'; Occupational Pension - rights on Divorce and 'Your Children: Who Should Care?' By 1986 there were 300 Gingerbread Self Help Groups in England and Wales; 32 Groups established projects providing member services such as 24 advice centres, 6 day nurseries, 12 after-school/holiday play schemes, 2 temporary housing projects, 3 permanent housing schemes, 13 drop in centres. By 1988 there were approximately 13,000 members. In 2007 National Council for One Parent Families and Gingerbread merged to become one organisation.
Description5GNB/1-8 contains papers from Gingerbread's foundation (1970) until its merger with the National Council for One Parent Families in 2007 (for papers of the National Council for One Parent Families see 5OPF).

5GNB/9- contains papers following the merger.



* With the exception of printed material, there are few early papers of Gingerbread, c1970-81, but there is material relating to its attempt to become a charity, a few minutes of meetings and some policy statements (5GNB/1).

There is more substantial material from the 1970s among the printed papers (5GNB/5), including annual reports, histories of the organisation, policy statements and some responses to official consultations. Other print material is listed on the Library catalogue (see below).


* National Council minutes and papers, 1981-97 (5GNB/2).
This was National Gingerbread's policy-making body (its Board of Directors).


* Management Committee/Management Executive Committee minutes and papers, 1984-97 (5GNB/3).

This was the executive committee of the National Council. It was responsible for translating policy into action, for finance, and for employing staff in the national office, and was accountable to the National Council.

The committee discussed various matters such as: local groups (including constitutions and affiliation guidelines), staffing, finances, fundraising/spending grants, future plans, projects, publications, equal opportunities, computerisation of the National Office, AGMs, etc.


* Social Policy Sub-Committee minutes and papers, 1980-94 (5GNB/4)

The committee discussed various matters such as: campaigns, social security changes, Gingerbread's Social Policy Statements, legislation, responses to consultations, motions for Gingerbread's AGMs, etc.


* Printed and circulated papers, 1970-2001 (5GNB/5). Includes
- annual reports, 1972-86, 1987/8-1996/7, 2000-01
- information about Gingerbread, including its Memorandum and Articles of Association, histories, leaflets, etc.
- policy statements, responses to consultation documents, information guides/leaflets and campaign papers
- information for Gingerbread local groups.


* Photographs of Gingerbread-related events, demonstrations and personalities, and other images which might be used for publicity purposes, 1970s-90s (5GNB/6).


* Audiovisual material produced by Gingerbread (5GNB/7).


* Other pre-merger papers (5GNB/8), including:
- Gingerbread Scotland, 1980-81
- London Region, 1987-95
- Gingerbread Red Letter Day, 1993-95
- Printed material from other organisations (including Gingerbread Northern Ireland).



* Board of Trustees: minutes and papers, 2007-17 (5GNB/9-10).

* Annual reports and accounts, 2007-11, 2013 and 2015 (5GNB/11).

* Publications, 2007-10; 2018 (5GNB/12).

* New accessions - general papers (5GNB/13).


See also the Library catalogue for:

- editions of Gingerbread's journal, Ginger, 1973-2002

- Gingerbread's Newsletter: No.19 (May 1974)-no.26 (Mar. 1976)

- Gingerbread News, 1977-78
Related MaterialThe Women’s Library also holds the Records of The National Council of One Parent Families (5OPF) and the records of Mothers in Action (5MIA).
The UK Web Archive, provided by The British Library (with input from The Women's Library) preserved 'snapshots' of the Gingerbread website from 2006 - see
Related Record5OPF
Access StatusOpen
    Powered by CalmView© 2008-2024