Page:Homes of the London Poor.djvu/58

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56
HOMES OF THE LONDON POOR.

will appreciate the value of this who has had experience of the difficulty of obtaining the evidence of uneducated people, women more especially; they are nervously confused, they cannot understand what are the real points of the case, nor state them clearly; often the most important fact of all comes out apparently quite by accident in the middle of a long sentence after the terror of being questioned has worn off. Thus the reports sent in, even by young or inexperienced visitors, bring forward facts which might never have come to the knowledge of the committee, while the reports of more practiced visitors are of still greater value, and not unfrequently suggest far more efficient ways of helping poor families than could have been otherwise devised.

The applicant himself comes before the committee. He can thus explain his prospects, clear up any apparent discrepancy of statement, talk over any new plan proposed by visitor or committee, and receive, without delay, the answer to his application.

Whatever grant is sanctioned, however, or whatever plan of action is suggested, the visitor is entrusted with the management of it, so that where money is given it reaches those helped through a kind friend; and where some plan is recommended, it is tried under the friendly and watchful eyes of one who, owing to the advantages of education, should be wiser in many ways than the applicant. Her power, at any rate, is of a different kind, and may fill in his deficiencies.

The province of the Charity Organization Society is that of investigation only;[1] while the province of the Relief Com-


  1. "The Charity Organization Society" is the short title of "The Society for Organizing Charitable Relief and Repressing Mendicity," which was established in London in 1869. It was formed with the intention of remedying acknowledged abuses in the administration of charitable relief; and also to repress the profitable trade of mendicity, pnrsned by many who had no claim upon the public for support. The society does not confine its operations to these two branches, but aims at improving the condition of the poor, by enabling them to help themselves rather