Page:Homes of the London Poor.djvu/66

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HOMES OF THE LONDON POOR.

much more detailed and personal way than any corporate body could do, information as to sources of relief, societies available for special cases, as to what visitors of other denominations are doing, and what help the Poor Law will give. For example: "Can anything be done about Mrs. H——?" a new visitor will ask; "her room is fearfully dirty, and she is so infirm now that she cannot keep it clean. She would be better off in the workhouse." "I will communicate with the guardians, and no doubt the relieving officer will visit and report," the referee will answer. Or another volunteer will ask, "Can you tell me exactly what the law is now as to compulsory attendance at school? There are several bad cases of neglect in my court—what should I do about them?" Or another: "No. 7 in —— Street is in a most unhealthy state; can nothing be done?" "Yes, certainly," the referee will say; "if the drains are really, as you think, not trapped, the landlord can be compelled to do it. Write to the Inspector of Nuisances, and ask him to look into it. He is always most attentive to a request of this kind." Sometimes the suggestion will come from the referee. "Would you," she will say to some of the ladies, "make a list of the unvaccinated children in your streets, and tell the mothers how and when most easily to get the neglect remedied? They only want a little spurring up." Such is the work the ladies find, and the kind of help the referee can give.

Another most important means of securing unity of action is afforded by the written records which the committee make it a point that the visitors should keep—and should keep according to one fixed and definite plan. Each court has its own separate district book; each applicant has his separate page, where the detail regarding him and his family can be found at once. The reports of the relieving officer, of the clergyman, and of any references the applicant may have given, are all found in a condensed form on this same page. An entry is made of every kind of material help given, summed up in a money column