Thursday, 18 May 2017

Stories behind the book ....... nu 1 getting started

I first came across the Together Trust five years ago when I was researching our family history.  

Boys of the charity, 1871
Today they are a charity based in Stockport who “provide a wide range of support services  including fostering, residential, community and family support [and] provide specialist educational support through our schools and college” and are driven by the belief that “everybody deserves an equal chance in life.”*

They began in 1870 as the Manchester and Salford Boys’ and Girls’ Refuge and were involved in offering six boys who were living rough a bed and a meal for the night.
This was soon extended to include girls as well as boys, more residential properties were added and workshops were established to teach the young people a trade.

Thomas Bowers, a success story
The charity also campaigned on a range of issues to do with child welfare, migrated some to Canada and ran summer camps by the sea side.

And as we move towards their 150th anniversary the trust has decided to commemorate that event with a book which will be written by me and Liz Sykes who is their archivist.

Having decided on the broad themes Liz has generated a detailed chronology linked to archive material and I have gone off to trawl the newspapers.

During the last day and a bit I have identified over four hundred references to the charity in the Manchester Guardian for the first 50 years.

And as you do each of these has been dropped into a box, ranging from events, and summer camps to the work of the training schools, the migration parties sent to Canada, and finance.

The starting point has been the annual meeting where a report of the previous year was presented.

Destinations of the class of '72
In the January of 1873 Mr L. K. Shaw the secretary reported that “the Refuge had been in operation for three years and was for the relief and training of the homeless boys of Manchester and Salford.  

The great majority of the inmates had lost either the father or both parents.”**

He went on to describe where the 139 in their care were at the end of the year and what those who were still with them were doing.

It makes interesting reading and I can see why the charity was pleased with their progress.

Of those who had moved on, 23 were in “respectable situations and were supporting themselves” 7 had been migrated, another 11 “restored to their friends” six were in industrial schools and 75 still in the home, leaving only six who “had returned to the streets” and ten who were not accounted for.

Fund raising advert, 1906
Of the 75, just under half were learning a trade,  27 were in “shoeblack and messenger brigades" and 17 were employed on the premises in firewood making and shoe making.”

The report touched on the boys’ earnings and the economics of running the charity and the meeting concluded with contributions from the good, the wealthy and the worthy.

The following twenty four reports will I hope throw more light on the progress of the charity and make interesting comparisons.

So that is it day one of the research and I already feel I have learnt a lot.

Location Manchester

Pictures; courtesy of the Together Trust and data taken from the report of 1873.

* The Together Trust,

**The Boys’ Refuge and Industrial Home, Manchester Guardian, January 7, 1873

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