Page:Homes of the London Poor.djvu/78

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76
HOMES OF THE LONDON POOR.

whom his decision affects. So that the division of duty in Marylebone, where the visitor brings information and the Guardians vote relief, appears to be the right one. It is, moreover, a real help to the visitor in maintaining a satisfactory footing among the people under her charge, for them to know that, though she will listen to and represent their claims for relief, the absolute award of it does not rest with her.

I may perhaps here point out that there is one small addition to the system, which, though it would be of no direct advantage to the Poor Law authorities, would be of great service to those who are administering the local charities. I have already mentioned that the Guardians send to me as referee an official weekly report of the cases decided by them; but the grounds of their decision are not given, and often they may be such as would, if known to us, influence grants from the charities. If the Guardians saw no objection to allowing one or two representative volunteers to be present at their weekly meetings, this information would reach us fully and regularly. It would also afford guidance to the visitors if we could know to what extent the information furnished by them to the relieving officer is received and acted upon.

There is one further addition to the scheme which has been suggested. It has been said that it might be well to empower the volunteers to pay the regular out-door relief of the aged at their own homes, instead of compelling them, as at present, to gather at the workhouse door to receive it. As to the advantages of this plan I have as yet come to no decision. On the one hand, it is a gain that the poor should not be obliged to congregate for relief, which has a pauperizing effect upon them; and moreover the weekly visitation of the home would form a regular method of inspection. On the other hand, as I have stated above, the less the visitor is contemplated as an almoner, the more independent and satisfactory are her relations likely to be with her people,—and I fear the distinction between