Page:Homes of the London Poor.djvu/53

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THE WORK OF VOLUNTEERS IN THE ORGANIZATION OF CHARITY.


It is clear to those who are watching the work closely, and must even be apparent to those less conversant with the subject, that a great and growing conviction is abroad that our charitable efforts need concentrating, systematizing, and uniting. There are many signs that this conviction is bearing practical fruit. All the thirty Poor-Law districts into which London is divided are now provided with committees for organizing charitable relief. The formation of these committees has led gentlemen specially interested in the subject to come forward in various parts of London as candidates for the office of guardians; several such candidates have been elected in St. George's, Kensington, Marylebone, and other parishes. Nor is the movement confined to London. Charity Organization Societies, or others of a kindred nature, have been established in most of the large towns of England and Scotland. Conversation, newspapers, conferences, all bear witness how very generally it is now recognized that something ought to be done to improve our system of charitable relief, some co-operation secured between Poor-Law and charity, and some efficient means adopted to render alms less pauperizing than they have hitherto been. It is becoming clear to the public that there is a right and a wrong, a wise and an unwise charity. Those who have the interests of the poor at heart are learning, more and more, to consult experienced people before taking any direct steps towards trying to help those who apply to them for aid; those who wish to give money beginning to entrust it to enlightened committees, instead of endeavoring to distribute it themselves.

It becomes almost needless now to charge on the evils of "overlapping,"—that is, of various charitable agencies