Page:Homes of the London Poor.djvu/59

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57
VOLUNTEERS IN THE ORGANIZATION OF CHARITY.

mittee, before whom all the collected information is placed, and before whom the applicant appears, is that of final decision or relief. It dispenses the funds of the district, receiving money from people of all denominations, and administering help to all denominations without distinction. It is composed of two clergymen, one doctor, one schoolmaster, three tradesmen. In order to secure the attendance of men occupied during the day, this committee meets in the evening. One lady, the referee of the Charity Organization, always attends as a medium of communication be-


than by giving them alms. It has, accordingly, originated inquiry into the causes of distress and poverty, and has issued reports upon night refuges, soup-kitchens, crêches or public day nurseries, dispensaries, district visiting, systematic inquiry into the cases of applicants for relief and employment, and kindred subjects.

The affairs of the society are managed by a central council, holding periodical meetings, and which consists of some of the most influential citizens of London. The chairman and Hon. secretary of each district committee are ex-officio members of the council. There are at present thirty-five of these district committees, or branches, covering nearly the whole area of the metropolis, with its population of quite three millions. Each district committee has its permanent office. In some districts there are two such offices, with a small staff of paid officials; but nearly all the work is done by volunteers. The expenses of the central society are covered by special subscriptions. This fund is entirely distinct from the maintenance funds of the different district committees.

The districts are divided into smaller sub-districts or sub-divisions, usually following the existing legal boundaries; and the co-operation of the resident clergy, of all denominations, is always invited, as well as that of all existing charitable relief agencies. The sub-district in which Miss Octavia Hill has done such a remarkable work is that of St. Mary's, Bryanston Square, a portion of the very large parish and Poor Law district of St. Marylebone, London. Co-operation has here been secured between four agencies engaged in the administration of charitable relief. These are the Board of Guardians of the Poor, answering to our City Commissioners of Charities or County Superintendents of the Poor; the St. Marylebone District Committee of the Charity Organization Society; the Relief Committee, and the District Visitors. Miss Hill acts as Referee for all. She is the medium of communication through which each agency knows what the other is doing, thus enabling it to deal intelligently with each case of distress which comes before it. The visitors also obtain information for the School Board.—Ed.