The Together Trust, hosts an exhibition at Manchester Central Library, exploring the 150-year history of one of the North West’s leading disability charities.

Supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund, the exhibition tells the story of the charity’s work caring for people with disabilities, autism and complex health needs. And providing life-changing support for care-experienced people. 

Given the charity’s roots, the exhibition is aptly hosted in Manchester Central Library. Founded in 1870, by Leonard Shaw and Richard Taylor, to provide shelter for homeless boys in Manchester and Salford. Its first home, the Night Refuge with 12 beds, was on Quay Street, Manchester.  In its first 50 years, the charity helped around 124,500 children. 

Today, the Together Trust, headquartered in Stockport, delivers individual care, support and education services across the region, supporting over 2,000 people and families every year.

The Together Trust’s first home - the Night Refuge for Homeless Boys - which opened in 1870 at 16 Quay Street, Manchester
The Together Trust’s first home – the Night Refuge for Homeless Boys – which opened in 1870 at 16 Quay Street, Manchester (Credit: The Together Trust)

The exhibition, which includes displays of archive materials, describes some of the key developments on the charity’s long timeline and the life stories of the children and adults it has helped. 

The display, on the Central Library’s ground floor and in the Wolfson Reading Room, is being staged as part of the charity’s 150th anniversary celebrations.

“We are delighted to welcome the public to Manchester Central Library to learn about our pioneering heritage” said Mark Lee, Chief Executive of the Together Trust.

“Our charity has a rich legacy of supporting children, adults, carers and families in the North West and the work of our co-founders continues to inspire our modern-day values.

“This is a fantastic opportunity to inform people about our extensive archive and heritage thanks to grant funding from The National Lottery Heritage Fund.  We are also grateful to the Central Library for hosting us and the people we support who have donated their artwork and shared their stories for the exhibition. 

“Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions in 2020/21 meant we had to adjust some of our original 150th anniversary plans, however we went on to create new resources many of which can now be found online.  One example is an interactive timeline which charts our progress since 1870.  We are immensely grateful for the Heritage Fund’s flexibility and support throughout this challenging period.”

Some of the display highlights, from the charity’s early days, include information about the charity’s very first home for orphaned children in Manchester, caring for newly released juvenile and adult prisoners, social welfare campaigning on street hawking and child cruelty, and the development of its home (Bethesda) for children with disabilities and health conditions.

The ‘150 years of the Together Trust’ exhibition will run until 30 June 2022.

Find out more about the Together Trust here.

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Uzma Gulbahar holds a Bachelor of Arts in History from the University College of London. She is particularly interested in exploring untold stories surrounding marginalised groups, identity and culture.

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