The Shaftesbury Homes and Arethusa

A Changing Image

The Society's President since 1885, Lord Jersey, died in 1915. Because of the wartime upheavals, no immediate successor was appointed. This was remedied in 1919 when the Prince of Wales, the future Edward VIII, became President. One of the first matters in which he was involved was a change in the Society's name. The existing name (The National Refuges for Homeless and Destitute Children) was felt to be out of keeping with the times and, it was said, upsetting to many of those in the Society's homes. The new name that was adopted was The Shaftesbury Homes and Arethusa. (In 1944, the Ragged School Union was renamed the Shaftesbury Society, but was always a separate organisation.)

Reflecting the change of name, efforts began to make the Society's establishments more homely and less institutional. At the Ealing girls' home, greater contact with the local community was encouraged and a Girl Guides company started.

The employment prospects of the children also received increasing attention. For the boys, in particular, an increasingly wide range of occupations was becoming available. For girls, however, although nursing and teaching offered an alternative to domestic employment, there were some in the Society who were concerned at the 'over-education of the working classes. At a conference of the Society's Ladies Association in 1926, one speaker saw the ideal destination for many girls as the 'good wives' of the 'splendid young men of the Dominions'.