Monday, 1 September 2014

Tightening the belt

The death of Thomas Johnson in 1915 brings us neatly this week to the financial effects of the 'Great War' on the Refuge during this time. As many stories focus on the individual sacrifices made, it is as important to understand the work that continued at home. It was a fine line between success and defeat for the charity as the inevitable effects of the War took hold. Four years of closures, reduced income and increased admissions saw the charity in its worst financial position since its beginnings.


'In the Refuge'

There is no definite research on the effects of World War One on charities in Manchester. It is therefore unknown how many establishments had to close due to the restrictions on resources. It is likely not all survived. 
For the Manchester Refuge the World War caused three major issues;
  • Reduction in income as a whole and less support from the public as they donated to war related charities created to help those on the Front.
  • Closure of services either as a result of financial hardship or to the large number of older apprentices signing up.
  • Increased number of admissions by families devastated by the War.
It was a regular occurrence in the local papers, alongside the lists of casualties, to see the charity calling for aid. 
 “There is a deficiency of £10,000* on Manchester and Salford Boys’ and Girls’ Refuges maintenance account, the institution having been most unfavourably affected by the War. At least 4000 boys and girls are helped by it. There are over 350 children continually under its care. About £11,000 a year is needed to meet all the requirements of the work.” Manchester Evening News, 30th October 1915.
 

(*Equivalent of £430,600.00 in today’s money.)


Collecting Box for ‘Poor Manchester Kiddies’
As early as the 13 August 1914 instructions were given to masters and matrons of the various homes to exercise the ‘strictest economy in provisions and other purchases’. Subscriptions to the charity decreased greatly. The monthly magazine, the Children’s Haven’ was reduced to four issues a year in a bid to lower costs. The enlisting of the older apprentices resulted in the closing of four out of the five workshops. This loss of around £3000 in earnings and proceeds from the work sold, made a serious dent to the charity’s finances.

Despite these hardships however the charity struggled on, with the determination to continue providing much needed assistance to the children of Manchester.  

‘While they carry on for King and country for justice and liberty we must carry on for the young children who will be the future members and defenders of our great commonwealth.’ Children’s Haven, September 1916. 

It is perhaps a sign of the resourcefulness of the charity that it survived the tough years of War and headed into the 1920’s with a new home and new hope.

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