Page:Homes of the London Poor.djvu/65

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63
VOLUNTEERS IN THE ORGANIZATION OF CHARITY.

we must find some way to bind together broken scraps of time, and thus give it continuity in spite of changes and breaks. One great means of doing this is to have a living center. This should be secured in the referee.

The referee in the district here described was appointed in the first instance by the District Committee of the Charity Organization Society; she was subsequently asked to attend the Relief Committee, and has since been recognized by the Guardians and the sub-committee of the School Board as the representative of all the visitors throughout the district: the guardians kindly send to her, after their weekly meetings, notes of every decision arrived at as to applications for relief; these are immediately passed on by her to the visitor of the particular court where the applicant resides. The School Board has withdrawn its paid agent and entrusted to her and the staff of visitors working in concert with her the working of the compulsory clauses of the Education Act. She thus acts as a connecting link between all the various agencies at work in the parish.

It is evident that catastrophe would ensue if public bodies such as the guardians or School Board attempted to deal directly with such a crude, changeful, and untrained body as our volunteers necessarily form; but, communicating with them through the referee, they can use their aid and find it valuable.

The existence of a referee is a help to the visitors in various ways. She receives applications from all volunteers, introduces them to the clergy and others who need workers, or enrolls them as visitors under the Charity Organization Society in unvisited courts, if such there be. She has nothing to do with their work, so far as it is denominational, but takes note of it so far as it deals with visible help. She introduces temporary or permanent substitutes when visitors are absent from town, or ill, or unable from any other cause to continue their work; so that the threads of it are never broken. She is able to give, in a