Page:Homes of the London Poor.djvu/71

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RELIEF—OFFICIAL AND VOLUNTEER AGENCIES IN ADMINISTERING.

10th January, 1874.

Sir:

In accordance with your request, I beg to furnish an account of the system now in operation in a part of the parish of Marylebone, which aims at establishing a complete combination of official and volunteer agencies in dealing with Poor Law cases.

The attention of Poor-Law reformers has been much directed of late years to the administration of out-door relief in Elberfeld. The success of the system pursued there is no longer doubtful. It has been in operation for years; and the report presented to the Local Government Board by their inspector, after his visit, has proved how powerful it is in diminishing pauperism. In the first place, it is shown that the employment of numerous volunteer visitors has there formed a check on imposture, such as our relieving officers, owing to the size of their districts, cannot possibly supply; and secondly, that it has been found possible to adopt there much more radical measures for removing poverty than are here adopted. The poor are divided into groups, each group consisting of a few families, and each cluster of families is committed to the special care and supervision of an intelligent visitor, who goes in and out among them, making himself acquainted with their daily lives, their past history, their present resources and circumstances.

This being so, an account of an organization based on the same principles, and existing in our own country, gains an interest which it otherwise would not possess, and claims attention, though it covers a small area only, though