Author(s): Beverly Wardle-Jackson
'We were children caught up in a welfare system that was meant to protect us, but ultimately served only to damage us. Yes, it was a different time, but many of the things that happened to us wouldn't be acceptable in any era. My name is Beverly Wardle-Jackson, and this is my story.' In the Hands of Strangers is the heartwrenching story of a stolen childhood. Separated from her brothers and sisters and taken into Child Welfare care at the age of 12, Beverly spends five harrowing years as a state ward being beaten, locked up, and even admitted to Porirua Hospital in Wellington for psychiatric treatment. Her childhood is stolen from her as she dreams of the day she will finally be reunited with her siblings. That day never comes. Instead she is persistently punished for her attempts to run away and return to the life she knew before that fateful day the authorities came calling.
Beverly Wardle-Jackson was first removed from her family and taken into Child Welfare care in 1952 at the age of eight. Four years later she was permanently separated from her brothers and sisters and made a state ward. She spent the next five years being beaten and locked up in state-run children's homes, before she was eventually admitted to Porirua Hospital for so-called psychiatric treatment. She did not regain her freedom until she was 17, at which point she was pregnant. Now a grandmother in her sixties, Beverly has bravely decided to share the story of her lost childhood.