Success at Peacefield Handicrafts
This is a guest blog by Heather Roberts, who you might have seen featured in our other blog posts.
It’s not just in Manchester and Salford that Disabled Living has operated. Way back in the late 1800s The Band of Kindness, as it was known back them, was implementing novel ideas all over the country. As well as organising the delivery of Christmas hampers for 300 children every December, it operated a sort of convalescent home for children who needed time away from the “dirty old town” to recover from illness or injury, or receive other treatment.
This was called “Peacefield” and was situated on Cross Lane in Marple. The bottom of Cross Lane is now called Peacefield.
Peacefield newspaper cutting
An article in Disabled Living’s archive, kept in an absolutely stunning newspaper scrapbook, recognises that it is difficult enough to “struggle along in the slums of the city with health and limb” without having the added difficulty of illness or disability.
An added need was that the Band of Kindness has so much work to do for children that a separate operation was needed to deliver the required help. The Crippled Children’s Help Society was therefore formed and founded Peacefield.
The convalescent home didn’t just treat illness, but taught children skills. An ethos that has run through Disabled Living for over a century is that of opportunity for independent living. Back then, this was manifested in teaching children under its care handicrafts. It’s praised as being “eminently useful”. This isn’t only due to benefits to mental health. But that if, disabled children learned a skill then they could earn some money and live independently.
Women and basket weaving
Initially women would come and teach basket weaving. But mind quickly turned to more effective crafts and expert craftspeople were consulted to:
…extend the teaching of crafts more satisfactory, and to a larger extent more remunerative.
Success stories were quick to come with two young women from Peacefield. They found a place in the Crippled Girls’ Industrial Home in London. Here, they were taught “the art of artificial flower making, and thus be enabled to earn their own living.”
The article ends triumphantly stating that “this beneficent work speaks loudly for itself.”
I love this story of success, attention, care and triumph and can’t wait to share more insights into the archive with Disabled Living’s “Donkeys To Innovators” archive and heritage project.