Monday, 26 June 2017

Raising the money ....... lifting the lives of Manchester and Salford’s less fortunate children

Now the deeper I burrow into the story of the Together Trust for the new book the more impressed I am with the history of this charity.*

Savings box, circa 1900
It started in 1870 offering beds and breakfasts to destitute boys who were found on the streets of Manchester and Salford.

Within a decade it had expanded to include residential accommodation for both boys and girls, vocational training centres, and holidays by the sea.

 It also  campaigned to regulate the employment of young people as street traders and intervened in the courts to protect children from neglectful and abusive parents.

By 1905 the charity was responsible for 192 young people in its Central Refuge and Home, 47 at the Working Youths Home & Institute, 126 in the Boys’ Emigration Training Home and 112 at the Streets Boys’ Training Home.

In addition there were 64 girls at the Elder Girls’ Training Home and Laundry, 112 young people at the Orphan Homes for Little Children, another 59 at the Home for Crippled & Incurable Children and 26 in the Home for Motherless Little Girls.

The Open Day Shelter had received 391 youngsters, 2,583 had had a week’s holiday in Southport and another 231 had spent time at the Lytham Seaside Home.

Summer Camp Appeal, early 20th century
The charity also provided work through its Messenger and Shoe Black Brigades for 225 lads, emigrated 66 to Ontario and along with its work at the Police Court Mission held a daily drop in centre for prisoners released from prison.**

It is an impressive list and of course cost a lot of money.

Some of that funding came from donations and bequests.  Mrs Rylands left £2000 in her will to the Refuge in 1908, Mrs Hyland £30 and Frederick Rothwell £500.

And then there were the appeals to the public which came in many different guises and were as imaginative as any that charities today come up with.

These included the savings boxes which came with a picture on the side of a group of “ragged children” and the request to “Help the Poor Manchester Kiddies.” 

Emma before Admission to the Refuge, 1913
My own favourite is the slot machine which was fastened to the wall and dispensed pencils which carried name of the charity and were marketed as “a cabinet to help a child.”

Foremost as now were the appeals through the media which included letters requesting donations and adverts.

And just like today the charity was aware that what worked was a clear explanation of what your money could buy.

So in 1911 the treasurer, Mr Peers wrote to the Manchester Guardian that it would cost £2000 to run the annual “Summer Camp for Poor City Boys’” which amounted to £60 a week, or six shillings for each boy “covering railway fare and maintenance...... [providing each boy with] four good meals a day and time filled with games of all kinds, rambles on the shores and sand hills, and bathing in the sea.”***

Later in the year there were appeals for the Christmas parties which were later followed up by reports on how successful the parties had been.

These were supplemented by regular appeals in the charity’s own newspaper and by pamphlets which carried harrowing stories of children found destitute on the streets along with success stories. They were sold for one half penny or 4d per dozen and carried adverts for collecting boxes and collecting cards.

The stories could be both painful to read and uplifting.  So in the case of Tim and Joe The Living Dead, when first encountered the boys  “fought , used bad language told more falsehoods than truth, were dishonest, dirty, and almost naked” but when shown kindness were transformed.

Emma after admission to the Refuge, 1913
And in Night and Morning published in 1872 the full horror of life on the streets was described with ”groups of idle vagrant boys and girls from about 15 to 18 years of age [of which]  few can read and write, many have been in prison and all of them are growing up idle, vagrant, and godless.”

But the overriding message was that with financial support the charity could turn around the lives of young people who through no fault of their own were on the streets or at the mercy of neglectful and abusive parents.

And to this end like other children’s organizations, the Refuge made much of the before and after image of a child admitted into their care, along with the success stories.

Some may be cynical of such advertising methods but they were based on reality and the message did work bringing in money which changed lives.

Location; Manchester

As ever, a special thanks to Liz Sykes the archivist of the Together Trust

Pictures; courtesy of the Together Trust,

*A new book on the Together Trust,

** Boys’ and Girls’ Refuges, Manchester Guardian April 5 1905

*** Poor Lads at the seaside Mr. J. Peers Ellison, Manchester Guardian, May 27, 1911

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