Friday, 23 December 2011

Christmas Day at the Together Trust

The great event of the year at the Manchester and Salford Boys’ and Girls’ Refuges was Christmas with its good cheer and the arrival of Santa Claus. So as it’s only two days until Christmas I thought it was a good excuse to see how the charity used to celebrate the ‘big day!’

Taken from the Children’s Haven 1886

A Lost Christmas Dinner

(Taken from Children’s Haven, 1907)

One December day in 1876, a gentleman rang the bell of the Manchester Boy’s Refuge on Francis Street and asked to see the Master. Here he made enquiries;
Gentleman: “How many boys do you have in the home?”
Master: “We have around 100 waifs and strays living at the Refuge Sir”
Gentleman: “Do these boys get a Christmas dinner?”
 Master: “No one has promised to provide dinner as yet.”
Gentleman: “Then I will provide it.”

The gentleman in question provided this dinner to the boys year after year, for over thirty years. The only condition made was that his name should be kept secret. Every year, without fail, the roast beef and plum pudding arrived for the hundred or so boys living in the Refuge. The children referred to the giver as the ‘Great Unknown’ and gave three cheers as a sincere thank you.

 Father Christmas at an Annual Bazaar

Our Christmas Doings

The Strangeways Refuge, as a centre of Christian work and usefulness amongst the poorest, was therefore very busy; and to it flowed parcels, and contributions of all kinds and from all quarters, which were carefully distributed according to the wishes of the donors.
One woman sent 50 scarves, her own knitting;
“To be given to the boys who are much out of doors.”

Closely following is a useful parcel;
“For the poor children’s Christmas morning’s treat.”

Thus every post brought letters containing various amounts, from one shilling to ten pounds.

From one lady in Cheetham Hill there arrived for our six Orphan Homes, 12 plum puddings, 150 mince pies, 120 oranges and sundry books, so that we were relieved of all preparation of these articles at the Orphan Homes.

On the same day there came by post a note enclosing 20 shillings; 
“A mite to help the poor children at Christmas. I only wish it was much more.” 

Gingerbread houses made by staff for the Christmas parties

Just as in Victorian Manchester the Together Trust still appeals for gifts for the children at Christmas time. The charity also has Christmas parties for its various services. You can hear more about what the Together Trust does on Christmas Day, when a special broadcast will take place on the work of the charity on Radio BBC 5Live between 10am to 1pm. It’ll be well worth turning your radio on whilst making Christmas dinner!! 

Merry Christmas everyone!

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