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Royal Philanthropic Society

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Title: Royal Philanthropic Society  
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Subject: Wilfred Wood (bishop), Earlswood, List of Statutory Instruments of the United Kingdom, 1994, John C. Lettsome
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Royal Philanthropic Society

The Royal Philanthropic Society had its origins in the St Paul's Coffee House in London in 1788 where a group of men met to discuss the problems of homeless children who were to be found begging and stealing on the streets. The Society began by opening homes where children in need and young offenders were trained in cottage industries working under the instruction of skilled tradesmen. This was one of the first attempts in the United Kingdom to separate the treatment of young offenders from the adult population.[1] In 1806 the Society was incorporated by Act of Parliament, sanctioning its work with juvenile delinquents.

Archives show that by 1848 1,500 children had been helped and only 1 in 20 committed further offences.

Philanthropic Farm School

In 1849 the Society founded the Farm School for Boys at Redhill in Surrey modelled on the Mettray Penal Colony in France. The Reformatory School Act of Parliament (1854), championed by a movement supported by Charles Dickens, allowed the courts to send delinquents to the Society's reformatories instead of sending them to prison.

Concerned about the lack of hope for those who came before the courts the printer Frederic Rainer, a volunteer with the Church of England Temperance Society (CETS), wrote to them in 1876 with a five shilling donation towards a fund for rescue work in the police courts. In response the CETS appointed a missionary to Southwark court, who became the basis for the London Police Court Mission (LPCM).

Between 1880 and 1902 eight full-time LPCM missionaries were appointed and the Mission opened homes and shelters to provide vocational training. In 1907 the LPCM missionaries were appointed officers of the court who were later to be known as probation officers.

The Children and Young Person's Act (1933) introduced juvenile courts for children of 17 and younger and the Philanthropic Society's Redhill Farm School was given approved school status. In 1938 the Home Office assumed control of the probation service and the LPCM began to concentrate on hostels for probation trainees and to set up homes for children at risk, sexually abused children and for young mothers.

In 1952 the Philanthropic Society was granted royal status.

In 1964 the Philanthropic Society registered with the Charities Commission as Rainer, in recognition of Frederic Rainer's donation.[2]

In 2008 Rainer merged with Crime Concern, another long established charity working with young people in the criminal justice system to become Catch22 ( Catch22 is a national charity that works with young people who find themselves in difficult situations; helping them to stay healthy, find opportunities to learn, earn a living, find a safe place to live and to give something back to their community.

See also


  • Article in 'The Independent' re 200th Anniversary
  • Catch22 website
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