The Shaftesbury Homes and Arethusa

Facing the Future

The Society's financial problems continued into the 1960s. In 1967, its Head Office moved from 164 Shaftesbury Avenue to smaller premises at 229A Shaftesbury Avenue. Its difficulties were added to by the steady trend away from providing residential care in large institutions, which had been the Society's traditional main activity. By the 1970s, there was also a decline in the number of boys interested in training for a life at sea.

In 1972, following a major review by consultants of the Society's options for the future, known as the Hunt Report, three major changes were proposed. First, the Arethusa would now be run as a floating secondary boarding school, coupling high quality education with character training and adventure. Second, the Society would open one or more hostels for homeless school leavers, run along family-style lines. Third, a suitably qualified 'Social Service Secretary' would be appointed to co-ordinate all caring aspects of the Society's work. These recommendations offered a path by which the Society could continue to pursue an active role in the support of young people.

In 1973, the first of the Society's Adolescent Hostels was opened in Putney, housing ten boys in their late teens, under the supervision of a small residential staff. The neighbouring house subsequently acquired for use as a 'progress' hostel and fitted out as self-contained flatlets for those able to live independently. In 1975, Esher House became a supported hostel for vulnerable, young, single mothers with their babies. Funding for these new initiatives came from the sale in 1974 of the Society's last big property, Fortescue House at Twickenham. The remaining residents of Fortescue House were transferred to new premises at Hanworth, Middlesex.

Although the Arethusa did see a short period of use as a floating boarding school, the cost of its maintenance, together with £100,000 worth of urgently needed repairs, led to the decision to dispose of the vessel. She was sold in 1975 to the South Street Seaport Museum of New York and restored to her 1911 condition and name, the Peking. In the same year, a new 71-foot ketch was acquired to become the third Arethusa, itself replaced in 1982 by another purpose-built vessel. The Arethusa's on shore buildings were developed into the Upnor Venture Centre. Two other new nautical-related projects were the John Collett Barge, a floating school for children from the Borough of Southwark who struggled to cope with mainstream education, and the Sir Alan Herbert, a sailing barge used as a mobile adventure centre for inner-city children.

Other new ventures in the 1980s and 1990s included the McAndrew House Family Centre in Clapham for parents having difficulty coping with their children, the Ipswich Young Persons Support Team providing guidance and support to vulnerable young people in the city, and a scheme to manage residential homes for young people on behalf of the Borough of Wandsworth.

In 2006, the charity changed its working name to Shaftesbury Young People. Its present-day mission statement is "To support young people in care and in need to find their voice, to be healthy, to learn, develop and achieve and to gain an independent and positive place in society."