Page:Homes of the London Poor.djvu/60

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58
HOMES OF THE LONDON POOR.

tween the visitors, committee, and Charity Organization Society. Any visitors can attend who wish, but in general they find it more convenient to report by letter. Unless the referee has much time, one paid worker is needed to carry out the work well. In the district just described the former almoner is employed, who has great knowledge of the people. She attends the committee, and her information is found to be most valuable. It is a great advantage to have some one always on the spot. She receives applications, and at once sends notice of them to the visitors and Charity Organization Society. She communicates to the visitors the decision of the committee, pays them money which is voted for applicants living in their districts, and keeps the accounts. In cases of emergency she visits, but her main object ought always to be to bring the visitors in well to their work.

Such is an outline of the plan adopted as regards its main features. Dry and formal as it may appear in print, I think that any one who reflects will see how the most intimate, loving, friendly way of reaching the poor through the efforts of kind visitors (each of whom visits chiefly amongst those she knows best) has been secured, whilst any danger of confusion has been avoided, and the chance of overlapping has been reduced to a minimum.

A few specimens of the kind of cases which may come before the Parish Committee, and of the mode in which they would be dealt with, are here subjoined.

An old woman enters the room. She gives an anxious, nervous glance at the members of the committee who are sitting round the table. She is asked to take a seat and to answer the questions, which are as kindly put to her as possible. Soon, however, she becomes hopelessly confused, and in her long, rambling tale contradicts herself over and over again. It seems to be impossible to discover any reason for her actions—why she lives in so dear a room, why she persistently hides some facts. But reference is made to a note sent by the lady-visitor to the committee.