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 today. This is a chance for you to look behind the scenes...


A bit about our history

The Together Trust, formally known as the Manchester and Salford Boys’ and Girls’ Refuges and Homes and Boys’ and Girls’ Welfare Society 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 and needy children in the Manchester and Salford area. 

1870 to 1920 - In the slums of Manchester 

The charity was founded as the ‘Manchester and Salford Boys’ and Girls’ Refuges and Homes’ on the 4th January 1870 when a small home was opened at 16 Quay Street, Deansgate. This provided boys with a bed for the night in return for working during the day in the Shoeblack or Messenger Brigades, which were located around the city. In 1871 the premises were transferred to the Boy’s Refuge, Francis Street, Strangeways where the building was extended and eventually catered for 120 boys. The building also incorporated a swimming pool, a bake house, laundry room, infirmary and five workshops; firewood, carpentry, shoemaking, printing and tailoring for the boys to learn a skill.

In the early days the Refuge catered just for boys as the charity didn’t take in girls until 1878. In this year the first home for neglected girls was opened called Heathfield, in Broughton, thanks to a thousand pound check given by an interested party. The girls in this first home were aged between 10 to 15 years and provided them with a home as well as training in housework and laundry. They would later be placed in situations.

Within fifty years the organisation had grown quite substantially and incorporated residential homes for boys and girls of all ages, ‘Bethesda’, a home for children with severe illness or disabilities and a ‘Seaside Convalescent Home’. Other services included the running of the first Manchester branch of the ‘Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children’, 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 Refuge Committee purchased Belmont House (previously the family home of the Milne family) and its surrounding area of twenty two acres, in which they created the ‘Children’s Garden Village’. Here up to 120 children could be accommodated within five homes, Belmont House, Hayes, Shaw, Crossley and Gaddum. The children went to local schools and the village church. There was also a Sanatorium to cater for the sick.

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

1960 to today - Adaption and change

Over the next 50 years the Society continued to adapt and change depending on the needs of the local authorities or periods of financial constraint. Bethesda School became the main flagship service for the charity until 1999 when reduced admissions saw its closure. Bridge College (which had opened in 1993) took over from the service, providing further education for students with learning difficulties and disabilities. More schools were also 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 CYCES for those with behavioural, emotional and social difficulties (BESD).       

In 2005 the Charity became known as the Together Trust. It provides specialist education, care and community services to children, young people and adults across the North West and beyond. The Together Trust works with those who have behavioural challenges, learning difficulties, physical disabilities, complex health needs and autism spectrum conditions. To find out more about the services the Together Trust provides, please visit www.togethertrust.org.uk