150 years of the Together Trust’ exhibition: the story of a charity and its people

A new exhibition, exploring the 150-year history of one of the North West’s leading disability charities, the Together Trust, will open this week at Manchester Central Library.

The exhibition, supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund, tells the changing story of the charity’s work to champion and care for people in the region over the last century and a half.

The Together Trust was 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 more than 2,000 people and families every year.

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

“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.”

A £99,000 grant was awarded to the Together Trust by the Heritage Fund, thanks to National Lottery players, enabling the charity to draw on its long history to celebrate its milestone anniversary.

David Renwick, Director, England, North at The National Lottery Heritage Fund said “The Together Trust has a really interesting ‘back story’ from its humble, city-centre beginnings in Victorian England through to what the charity is today – a large, multi-service regional organisation empowering and helping thousands of people a year.  Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players we are proud to support the charity to share its fascinating heritage with a diverse audience through this exhibition.”

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.

Manchester Central Library is open Monday to Thursday 9am to 8pm and Friday and Saturday 9am to 5pm.  More about the Together Trust’s 150-year history, including the digital timeline, can be found here.