Page:Homes of the London Poor.djvu/67

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65
VOLUNTEERS IN THE ORGANIZATION OF CHARITY.

each month; and the visitor is also expected to record every month the principal events which have happened in the family. One line only is allowed for this. This rule is made because MS. records become useless if they are voluminous; the chief events only are required and must be carefully selected. The book is sent in once a month to the referee.

The privacy of the poor is not infringed by the use of these records, since the books remain exclusively in the hands of the visitor and referee, and it rests with the visitor to report to the committee only that which she deems essential to the right decision of a case. And, moreover, nothing of a private nature—nothing which could imply a breach of confidence—ought ever to be entered in the books at all.

The advantages of thus keeping district books are very great. It is of course not unusual for those who visit amongst the poor to keep written records of one kind or another. But if they are kept in various forms and the information is not tabulated so as to be readily comprehended by fellow-workers, half their value is lost. To be available for general use, it is all-important that the books throughout a parish should be uniform, and the information contained in them complete and condensed. They should be arranged so as to bring to a focus all the information obtained through the Charity Organization Society. Now it too often happens that they contain only notes of such facts as have come under the visitor's personal observation, and are kept by each visitor according to a different plan.

The work itself is an always growing one, as the system does not stop at mere relief, but uses its machinery to carry out every plan of helpfulness that can be devised. The visitors find that the work opens out as they themselves increase in power. Then the question arises how the pressing, useful things, which so urgently need doing, can possibly be got through. "I see more to do in my district