St Monica's Catholic Girls' Protection Home, Leeds, West Riding of Yorkshire
Following the formation of a branch of the Catholic Women's League in the Leeds Diocese in 1910, Bishop Cowgill proposed that it undertake work with vulnerable or 'fallen' girls and young women. The following year, members of the League, together with a number of parish priests, formed a committee which became known as the Diocesan Rescue and Protection Society. The Society's aim was to tackle the 'evil... of girls and women placed in positions of grave danger to their morals (and) of fallen girls and unmarried expectant mothers and their babies.'
Initially, some accommodation for the girls was provided by members of the Women's League in their own homes. The need for a more permanent arrangement was soon recognised, and on December 7th, 1911, the Society opened the St Monica's Catholic Girls' Protection Home at 179 Belle Vue Road, Leeds. The property was taken on a five year lease, with the sum of £50 being spent on necessary alterations. A formal opening by Dr Cowgill, the Bishop of Leeds, took place on January 24th, 1912, in the presence of the Archbishop of Liverpool and over 40 priest from the Diocese.
Accommodation was provided for 12 girls, who carried out the entire work of the household. Charge of the Home was initially placed in the hands of an experienced matron, Miss Ottaway. Early in 1912, however, it was decided to place the Home under the care of the Sisters of the Cross and Passion. On February 13th, 1912, Sister Mary Alban was placed in charge of the girls.
It quickly became apparent that the rescue work, and the accommodation of expectant mothers, really needed a separate establishment and a house for this purpose was found a short distance away on Mount Preston Street. The new home opened on October 7th, 1912, and adopting the name St Margaret's.
In 1918, St Monica's was relocated to larger premises at Croft House, 232 Burley Road, Leeds. In that year it was reported that there was a growing demand for girls' labour, and many of the inmates worked outside during the day.
In 1920, due to the financial strain it was placing on the Society's funds, the protection work of St Monica's was handed over entirely to the Sisters of the Cross and Passion.
In 1931, St Monica's moved into a property known as Ashfield House, on Vinery Road, immediately adjacent to the Croft House site.
St Monica's appears to have ceased operation in the 1940s.
After several changes of name, the Leeds Diocese Rescue and Protection Society is now known as Catholic Care.
Note: many repositories impose a closure period of up to 100 years for records identifying individuals.
- Catholic Care (Diocese of Leeds), 11 North Grange Road Headingley, Leeds LS6 2BR.
- Finnigan, Robert et al, 150th Anniversary History 1863-2013 Catholic Care, Diocese of Leeds (2013, Catholic Care)
- No surviving local records identified at present.
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