Friday, 28 July 2017

The Band of Kindness ........ another story of child care from the 19th century

Now I doubt that many will know of the Band of Kindness & Children’s Help Society which was established in 1882, reorganised in 1897 and went through a number of changes to its name which reflected the changes to the focus of its activities.

Band of Kindness, 1897
It is still active today under the title of Disabled Living with its headquarters in Greater Manchester.*

As such it perfectly reflects the way many children’s charities have changed, adapting to the changing needs of society.

I came across it in a box of archive material in Central Ref belonging to the Together Trust which is the subject of the new book.**

The book which I am writing with Liz Sykes who is the archivist of the Trust will describe the work of this children’s charity from 1870 to the present and aims to chronicle the way it has adapted to the changes and philosophy in child care over the last 150 years.

The presence of the Band of Kindness material in the archive owes much to the fact that one of its leading supporters and chairman was a Mr Gilbert R. Kirlew who was involved in the Together Trust and because the two charities worked together.

Letter from the Band of Kindness, 1897
What is interesting is the way that the Band of Kindness developed.

Back in 1897 it worked for “the happiness and blessing of those in our homes and of all we meet.  

The rescue and help of poor City Children and the savour of God’s little ones everywhere  [which] includes the support of destitute children in public and private homes, their emigration to the Colonies, or their temporary stay in the country or at the at the sea side.”

And “the promotion of kindness to dumb animals, as for instance, - our Annual Parade of Working 
Donkeys, when we off prizes for the animals best cared for.”***

By 1903 the Band of Kindness had become The Crippled Children’s Help Society distributing Christmas hampers to disabled children, and in the following year rented a property in Marple with seven rooms offering respite facilities.

Through the rest of the 20th century with minor name changes it continued working with disabled children and families.

Band of Kindness pledge, date unknown
And if like me you are of a certain age you will remember those saving boxes which were placed outside shops and had an almost life size figure of two disabled children holding the collecting box.

It also ran a hospital, a holiday home in north Wales, expanded its work to include adults and broadened its services to include training, occupational therapy and craft classes.

In 1985 it became the Disabled Living Services “as the previous name became offensive and was no longer politically correct”  and finally adopted the title Disabled Living because the “charity was being confused with health and social care services.“*****

Band of Kindness, 1897
Its present offices suffered a fire in 2009 and all its older archive material was lost.

Happily some of it has been retrieved after a chance find of a number of boxes photographs and memorabilia relating to Disabled Living which had been saved buy a former employer.

Which only leaves me to wonder if they know of the Trust’s box and of an interesting piece on Mr Gilbert Kirlew in Getting Down and Dusty which is the blog of the Together Trust.***

So what was lost is found and along the way yet another bit of the story of child care in the 19th and 20th centuries has been revealed.

Location; Manchester

Pictures;  The Band of Kindness & Children’s Help Society, courtesy of the Together Trust******

*Disabled Living,

**A new book on the Together Trust,

*** The Band of Kindness & Children’s Help Society, 1897, Together Trust Archive, M189/1/6/5

**** Disabled Living,

***** Photographs from Canada, 1894, Getting Down and Dusty,

******The Together Trust

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