Life was founded in 1970 on the principle that it is not enough simply to oppose abortion but that the positive alternatives should also be provided.
And so Life’s pregnancy care service grew rapidly with 100 Life groups by 1980 caring for women facing crisis and unexpected pregnancies. They also worked with schools and colleges promoting care and respect for human life.
In 1973, we acquired our first house in Coventry from a generous donor which enabled us to help more women. Following the passing of the 1977 Housing (Homeless Persons) Act, dozens of local authorities saw Life groups as the answer to discharging their new statutory responsibility to house homeless pregnant women.
There were soon centres and houses in almost all cities and major towns in the UK, with Life Northern Ireland opening in 1981. By 2000, more than 5,000 women and their children were accommodated in our houses and the number is significantly higher today.
Life Matters is now delivered by a team of Education Officers, who provide up-to-date, evidence-based information on abortion, reproductive technologies, relationships and other related topics. Talks link in with the National Curriculum and encourage young people to develop their own opinions on these key issues.
Another donation of a building in Liverpool in 1994 enabled us to establish our first Health Centre. This gave space for two new developments; a FertilityCare clinic, which adopted a natural alternative to IVF treatment, and the creation of the first Zoe’s Place Baby Hospice.
There are now three Zoe’s Places in Liverpool, Coventry and Middlesbrough providing care for children aged between 0-5 years with life-limiting or terminal illnesses. Zoe’s Places believe that life is precious, no matter how long it lasts and provides palliative care to ensure the children have the best life possible.
Having started from a room in Leamington Spa we acquired our own Head Office building in 1989. 2010 saw all four programme areas – Care, Housing, Education and FertilityCare – coming together under one roof, again in Leamington Spa. The following year we became core members of the Sexual Health Forum – the principal advisory group to the government on sexual health and HIV.
Our work continues to develop with Pregnancy Matters and Life Matters and the same core, pro-life values lie at the heart of our work today. As a non-religious charity, we believe in the value and dignity of human life from beginning to end and our services exist to uphold and enact these values.