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The Life of Thomas Barnardo

Assembly to accompany the book ‘A World of Difference’ by Bob Hartman, delivered free to schools in October 2017

Suitable for Key Stage 1


To consider the life of Thomas Barnardo.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need the book A World of Difference by Bob Hartman, delivered free to schools in October 2017. The story of Thomas Barnardo can be found on pages 57-62.

  • You will need an image of Thomas Barnardo and the means to display it during the assembly. An example is available at:

  • Note: this assembly covers some issues that could be sensitive for some children.
  • More information about Barnardo’s charity is available at:


  1. Ask the children if they remember a time when they felt cold. Ask them what they did about it. Possible responses could include putting on a coat, asking their mum or dad to make a hot-water bottle or going inside.

  2. Ask the children if they have ever slept in a tent. Ask a few of the children to describe their experiences.

    Listen to a range of responses.

  3. Ask the children if they have ever been inside a tent when it has been raining hard. Ask a few of the children to describe the experience.

    Listen to a range of responses.

    Point out that many people love camping, and being warm and cosy in a tent when the rain is pounding on the canvas can be a fantastic experience. However, ask the children to imagine how it would feel if the rain was still bucketing down, but there was no tent, they had nowhere to shelter and they were cold, wet and hungry.

  4. Explain that some of the children may have seen homeless people sitting on the streets and asking for money. These people are homeless for lots of complicated reasons.

    In the UK, it is very unusual to see homeless children. However, many years ago, this was not the case. Two hundred years ago, many children had no homes, so they lived on the streets, hoping that they would find somewhere to sleep that wouldn’t be too cold and wet, and hoping that they would find some food to eat.

  5. Show the image of Thomas Barnardo.

    Explain that the picture shows Thomas Barnardo, who decided to do something to change all this.

  6. Read the story of Thomas Barnardo found in the book A World of Difference, pages 57-62.

Time for reflection

Explain that during their lifetime, Thomas Barnardo and his wife set up 96 homes and took in over 8,500 children – that’s a lot! Even today, Barnardo’s is a leading UK charity that helps thousands of children.

You may wish to include some extra information from the Barnardo’s charity website, which is available at:

Thomas Barnardo saw people in need and did something about it. He didn’t look the other way and pretend that there was nothing wrong. He saw children who needed a home and he worked to make a difference.

Can we make a difference today?

Dear God,
Thank you for people like Thomas Barnardo.
Thank you for people who don’t look the other way when someone needs help,
But instead go out of their way to be helpful.
Please help us to follow good examples.
Please help us to be people who care.
Please help us to put our care into action.

Further resources

Further resources can be found at:

Thomas Barnardo - design a home

Thomas Barnardo - word search

Thomas Barnardo - discussion questions

Thomas Barnardo - extra activities

More resources about Thomas Barnardo are available at:

Publication date: October 2017   (Vol.19 No.10)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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