About the blog

The Together Trust Archive blog aims to give an insight into the history of the charity through its collection of books, photographs and documents dating from 1870 to the present day. This is a chance for you to delve into the past and look behind the scenes...

A bit about our history

The Together Trust, formerly known as the Manchester and Salford Boys' and Girls' Refuges and Homes (1870-1960) and the Boys' and Girls' Welfare Society (1960-2005), is a charity based in the North West of England. It was founded in 1870 by Leonard Kilbee Shaw and Richard Bramwell Taylor to care for vulnerable children in need of support across the Manchester and Salford area. The two teachers of the St Ann's Ragged Sunday School were moved by the plight of destitute children living on the city streets after encountering two boys who were reluctant to leave the schoolroom after their lesson. Shaw and Taylor learned that the boys had been sleeping out in deplorable conditions on the city streets, and were determined to provide a safe and comfortable environment for the boys, and those just like them, where they could also learn a trade.

1870 to 1920 - In the slums of Manchester

The charity was founded on the 4th January 1870 when a Night Refuge was opened at 16 Quay Street, Deansgate, Manchester. This provided boys with a bed for the night in return for working during the day in the Shoeblack or Messenger Brigades which operated across the city. In 1871, the premises were transferred to the Boys' Refuge on Francis Street, Strangeways, where the building was extended and catered for 120 boys. The building also incorporated a swimming pool, a bake house, laundry room, infirmary and five trade workshops: firewood, carpentry, shoemaking, printing, and tailoring. 

In the early days, the Refuge catered just for boys, but by 1878 the charity began to take in girls. In this year, the first home for neglected girls, 'Heathfield', was opened in Broughton, thanks to a donation of £1,000 given by an interested party. Heathfield accommodated girls aged between 10 to 15 years and provided them with training in housework and laundry before they moved on to situations in local private residences.

Within fifty years the charity had grown substantially, incorporating residential homes for boys and girls of all ages including 'Bethesda', a home for children with disabilities and long-term a health conditions, and a 'Seaside Convalescent Home'. Other services included the first Manchester branch of the 'Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children' (later incorporated into the NSPCC), the opening of a summer camp, and the establishment of an emigration scheme to Canada. 

1920 to 1960 - The fresh air of the countryside

Since these humble beginnings, the charity has grown and developed, eventually moving away from the crowded streets of Manchester and Salford into the fresh air of the countryside. In 1920 the Refuges Committee purchased Belmont House (previously the family home of the Milne family) and its surrounding 22-acre estate, in which they created the 'Children’s Garden Village'. Here up to 120 children were accommodated across five homes: Belmont House, Hayes, Shaw, Crossley, and Gaddum. The children went to local schools and the village church. There was also a sanatorium on site which was used to treat sick residents and those entering the charity's care prior to their placement in one of the homes. 

The Children Act of 1948 resulted in much higher levels of funding for the charity from the new Welfare State – for the first time it no longer had to rely on charitable funding and donations. This new revenue allowed for the purchase of several new homes in local towns, enabling the children to integrate within the community. The now empty buildings on the Belmont Estate were converted for the use of the Bethesda service from 1959, where it provided a school and accommodation for children with disabilities. A year later the charity changed its name to the Boys and Girls Welfare Society. 

1960 to today - Adaption and change

The charity has continued to adapt and change depending on the needs of the local authorities and throughout periods of financial constraint. The charity's flagship service, the Bethesda School, eventually saw reduced admissions which resulted in its closure in 1999. Bridge College (which had opened in 1993) took over from the service, providing further education for students with learning difficulties, disabilities, and complex health needs. More schools were later opened to provide for different needs of young people. These included Inscape House School for children and young people with autism spectrum conditions (ASC), and Ashcroft School (formerly CYCES (Child and Youth Care Education Service)) for young people with social, emotional and mental health needs. 

In 2005 the charity became known as the Together Trust; it continues to provide specialist education, care, support, and community services to children, young people, adults, and their families across the North West of England. To find out more about the services the Together Trust provides, please visit www.togethertrust.org.uk

Use of images and text on the blog

All images and text on this blog are copyright of the Together Trust, unless otherwise stated. If you would like to use an image for non-commercial or research purposes please contact enquiries@togethertrust.org.uk.