The Joseph Cox Charity began in 1963 as a direct response to the concern which Canon McClernon (Parish Priest of St Augustine’s, Manchester) had expressed for the welfare of homeless men who regularly called at the presbytery, looking for help. Apart from giving the price of a night’s lodging at some hostel in the city, the clergy were limited in the practical help they could offer. The Legion of Mary, who also wanted to do more, obtained permission to use an empty house in Loxford St where homeless men would be offered food and refreshment.
Although the house was scheduled for demolition it became a place where these men were welcomed and befriended. However, the centre closed at 10pm and the men had to return to the streets. The need for a night shelter remained. The Legion wanted to provide some form of residential accommodation but they lacked funds to provide a property. Canon McClernon introduced Joseph Cox, to the Legion, who then became involved, and purchased 3 Victorian houses knocked into one, 46-50 Nelson Street.
“The Morning Star” hostel was opened in September 1963 by the Lord Mayor of Manchester, Bernard Langton, in the presence of Joseph Cox. The accommodation was rough but homely, a tribute to the unpaid helpers who saw Christ in these needy men. The men had food and shelter, and perhaps even more importantly had an address which enabled them to claim benefits. The men came from a variety of disturbed backgrounds: homelessness, alcoholism, mental health problems, and anti-social behaviour. Manchester Social Services made an annual grant in token of their support.
In 1977 Joseph Cox died, and John Hubert Cox took over as Chairman of the Trustees. Eventually it became apparent that the Legion could no longer continue to provide the voluntary-based wardenship, nor could the St Vincent de Paul society cover all needs. After consultation with the Charity Commission, the Joseph Cox Charity, under the management of John Hubert Cox assumed direct responsibility for the running of the hostel. Paid staff were employed and a volunteer Management Committee, responsible to the Trustees, was appointed. This is how it is today.
By 1979 the local health authority had obtained a compulsory purchase order on Nelson Street. Other premises were needed. In December 1980 the hostel moved to George Leigh Street in Ancoats. The move was more than a change of location. It was the first of a number of changes that led to the transformation of the hostel into the home it is now. The name was changed from Morning Star Hostel to Mary and Joseph House, and the trust changed as well. It is now simply “The Joseph Cox Charity”.
Mary and Joseph House soon became registered with the City Council. It was no longer a night shelter but a care home. The City Council advised an upgrade of the standard of accommodation so that each man could have his own room. The Trustees were unable to finance a conversion of the kind that was necessary, and so the City Council, in conjunction with John Hubert Cox and Alan Bancroft (the then chairman of the Management Committee), channeled money from the housing corporation through Collingwood Housing Association, one of the region’s largest registered social landlords who would become responsible for the construction of the House and it’s equipping. The Joseph Cox Charity would then run the house. The site for the new building was Palmerston St, Ancoats.
Mary and Joseph House opened in 1993, and now accommodates 41 residents either with their own room or in a self contained flat. The day to day management is carried out by members of staff under a Manager, who is directly accountable to the Management committee. The House has changed considerably since its early days but the purpose for which it was started has not changed: that of caring for those who are homeless, vulnerable, and in need of a home. The home is inspected regularly by the Care Quality Commission, from whom it has received an “excellent” status, over the last 3 years. And Mary and Joseph House now sees itself as a place of excellence for those who are most needy in our society, and has a Vision that will take it right through the 21st Century.