Page:Homes of the London Poor.djvu/56

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54
HOMES OF THE LONDON POOR.

stances; but the subjoined sketch of a plan now in operation is given because it is always easier to see how a scheme will work when it comes before us as an actual fact, with a definite place and history, than when its bare principles only are laid down.

The working of the plan is not yet by any means perfect. There are many flaws still to be remedied, many breaks still to be filled up. It might, perhaps, have been better to delay writing about it till the working was made more complete, had it not been that the plan has been successful so far, and that it promises to be increasingly so. Besides, this seems the time when an account of a practical scheme for using individual work in conjunction with that of committees may be of real value. The need of some such scheme is felt with regard to the Poor Law. The Poor Law authorities have lately called the attention of Boards of Guardians to the success of the Elberfield system, which depends on the careful and systematic inquiries of a large number of volunteer visitors. The Macclesfield Board of Guardians has already invited volunteers to aid it under the name of Assistant Guardians. The same want is felt with regard to charity. On all sides we hear of people willing to give their time if only they could be sure of doing good. They are dissatisfied, they say, with district visiting, which creates so much discontent and poverty, and does so little lasting good; they want to know of some way in which their efforts may fit in with more organized work.

In the district in which the following plan has been tried the poorer inhabitants have for years been accustomed to make their applications for relief daily, between nine and ten o'clock, at a house situated in the center of the parish. The mode of administering relief has been changed, but the house is still used for the reception of applications. The names are taken down, and one of the blank forms used by the Charity Organization Society[1] is filled up with the account given


  1. N.B.—To save confusion, the District Committee of the Charity