Wednesday, 28 June 2017

One year in story of the Manchester and Salford Children’s Charity

Now it is very easy to overlook that for some of the children’s charities, the migration of young people was a small part of their work.

Outside the Refuge HQ, 1900
The Manchester and Salford Boys’ and Girls’ Refuge was responsible for helping thousands of young people during its first fifty years and of these only a comparatively small number crossed the Atlantic and in some years none were sent.

So in 1886 at the annual meeting of the Refuge, the secretary reported that in the previous year 41 children had been migrated to Canada.

But he added that a large home beside the Orphan House had been given “unasked for” at  Cheetham Hill  “where they proposed establishing a training home, which they expected would enable them to rescue from misery here and place in bright Canadian houses some sixty more children each year than they had ever been able to do before.”*

Set against this work were the other activities which included the Central Refuge which was a receiving point and had 115 bed, a home for little orphan children George Street Cheetham Hill which accommodated 145 children, centres providing vocational training to  31 boys and 42 girls.

The newly opened opened Boys’ Rest and Lodging House in Angel Meadow which was one of the worst areas in the city had been very successful.  The “total number of times the beds were occupied  was 4,554, or an average of 13 boys for every night in the year.  175 children have enjoyed the advantage of the Sea-side at Lytham.  The training ship Indefatigable  continues a very useful adjunct to the work of the Refuge as an out let for such of the boys who have been sent there during the past year makes a total of 148.”

The Caxton Brigade, date unknown
And the Refuge continued to have great success with the “The three brigades  - the Caxton, the News, and the Messenger which had given employment to 297 boys during the year.”

And at the core was the Shelter for Wandering Children on Major Street which could take 210 young people.  It was “open day and night and 4984 meals been supplied and the beds occupied by 1,648 times during the year.”

The charity also ran Christmas parties, campaigned for better regulations of children selling goods in the streets and intervened in the courts on behalf of young people who were subject to parental neglect or abuse, and even offered refuge and help to prisoner newly released.

It was an extensive range of activities which continued to expand during the rest of the century.

The yard outside the old Refuge, circa 1870s
The charity suspended the migration of young people with the outbreak of the Great War and never resumed taking the decision that peace time reconstruction might be assisted if the young remained in Briton.

The reports are a fascinating insight not only into the work but also the growing interest in increased intervention on behalf of young people, ranging from calls to better control “street hawking” to a greater emphasis on good practical vocational training.

Along the way there are the bigger debates like that around migration with the Refuge participating in the 1910 conference held to explore ways of “introducing order and uniformity into the work of emigrating people from this country to the colonies.” Nearly 50 agencies were represented the discussions ranged over the validity of the policy to the practicalities.

Earlier in 1905 the charity had become very concerned at accusations concerning the treatment of children in Canada, but that is for another time.

Location; Manchester

Pictures; courtesy of the Together Trust, https://www.togethertrust.org.uk/

* Manchester and Salford Boys’ and Girls’ Refuges, Manchester Guardian, February 17 1886

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