All About Contact Hostel
Brigid Murphy, an ex-Deputy Head Teacher of a ‘Girls Approved School” first set up by Contact in 1970. Some of the girls who left the school went on to become homeless, living on the streets, and some turned to drugs or alcohol.
A strong Catholic Ethos led Brigid to set up Contact Hostel, using her own resources to fund the project. Contact, based on her ideals, has now been providing a home for vulnerable girls and young women for 40 years.
The first location was on Mayfield Road. It was a large Victorian, semi-detached house that stood empty for two years. On June 29th 1970, Contact took over the lease from Manchester City Corporation.
Considerable alterations were needed to make the house habitable. This was a project that the whole community became involved in. Help came in all sorts of ways. Sixth-formers from Saint Bede’s College turned up with paintbrushes and stepladders to help re-decorate. Saint Anne’s Youth Club lent a hand too. A member of the Link Society completely re-wired the house!
By 31st July, even though the house was unfinished, Brigid Murphy was asked to take in two girls. Two days later another arrived, and another..By September there were five girls. To date, Contact has worked with over 400 young women over the last 40 years. The location is now 339 Wilbraham Road in Whalley Range, South Manchester, and there is an additional bungalow where a young woman can take the next supported step towards full independence: Brigid’s Bungalow.
The Catholic Herald, Friday September 4, 1970 – under the headline of ‘Girls from approved schools find a home’ by F.C. Price – the end quote comes from Brigid Murphy herself.
‘….’Now we are penniless and hopelessly in debt but I suppose it is inevitable,’
Contact offers accommodation to single homeless teenage girls, aged 16 – 19, many of whom come from diverse and troubled backgrounds.
Contact helps the young women to re-connect with society and get back into education, employment or training. Contact helps these young women to come to terms with the past and to build a better future for themselves.
Each young person is allocated a ‘Key worker” who meets with them on a regular basis. They develop a ‘Personal Plan’ which includes learning skills such as house keeping, shopping, cleaning, cooking and looking after themselves.
Although life here at Contact is based on living with support, there is great emphasis on developing personal responsibility and skills needed for independent living. Each resident has a fully furnished bedroom with its own key, the room also has a wash basin and TV aerial. Private space is important.