|Text of the Winter Distress League's reports for 1922-4, originals loaned by Christine Weiss|
Winter Distress League
The National Appeal to all People of
Goodwill during these difficult days.
REPORT FOR THE SEASONS
1922-23 and 1923-24.
SCHEMES OF RELIEF.
1.The schemes of relief operated by the League may be briefly divided into four sections :
(a) Employment Schemes.
(b) Provision of Clothes.
(c) Boarding out of children in the country.
(d) Financial grants for special purposes.
(a) EMPLOYMENT SCHEMES FOR MEN.
2.The " Hospitals Scheme." The two main difficulties originally in our path were, (a) the problem of providing employment without diverting it from the usual industrial channels and so causing the tragedy we exist to alleviate, and (b) the heavy cost of financing our schemes, since we pay what the men's work is worth in the open market.
After much consideration, it was decided that the principal scheme should be the sending of men to do work in various philanthropic institutions, such as hospitals, creches, schools for mothers, etc., which were prepared to provide the materials and to give a specific assurance that the work under consideration would not be put in hand if the League's help were not available.
This plan has been triumphantly successful. Eighty-five men were employed during the first seven months of last year and seventy-two this year, married ex-service men being given the preference. It was found, roughly speaking, that the dependants averaged three to one, so that for every hundred men employed, three hundred persons in addition were provided for.
The great merit of the system is the entire absence of any suggestion of "charity," the whole arrangement being on a strict business basis ; Trade Union rates are paid, schedules of work laid down, and any man who is slack, incompetent or otherwise unsatisfactory, receives one warning, and if he fails to reform, is dismissed. The very small number of complaints, the enthusiastic eulogies from the hospitals and other places assisted, and the fact that hardly any man left the League's service except to take up a permanent job, are the best indications that the right type of man was taken on; whilst a further proof is afforded by the fact that a very considerable number of our fellows found billets on the staffs of the institutions where they had worked, or through the satisfaction of those who had come into close touch with them.
Gangs of men have been employed at the following Hospitals and Institutions :
Helping Crippled Children and Unemployed Men at the same time. In addition to requests for workers for London Hospitals, an urgent appeal reached us last year from the Chailey Heritage Craft Schools, who had received an offer of voluntary professional services from the best orthopaedic surgeons in the country, on condition that their buildings were equipped with electric light and certain necessary appliances. Knowing what splendid work is done by these schools, co-operation was willingly promised and the work set in hand, the Schools providing the materials and the League paying for the labour. Suitable local unemployed men were taken on for this purpose.
The following selection from a large number of unsolicited testimonials is interesting :
3.Electric Home Cleaning Service. Early in 1924 the League took over the equipment and workers of a small enterprise which had been founded to try and provide employment for better-class ex-service men in connection with portable electric suction cleaning machines. The only expense involved was the purchase, at a valuation, of the machines, which are, of course, an asset.
The Service, which has given great satisfaction to those who have made use of it, is available on very moderate terms (which will be gladly supplied, with full particulars, by the Secretary), and readers are asked to remember the Servicei themselves and to make it widely known to others.
EMPLOYMENT SCHEMES FOR WOMEN.
4.Home Helps. In order to provide for some of the very tragic cases of unemployment among women which were brought to the League's notice, a certain number have been employed as " Home Helps " in St. Pancras during both seasons. These women were sent to the homes of persons temporarily unable to do their housework and not in a position to pay for outside help, though they make some contribution towards the cost when able to do so.
5.The Bachelors Mending Service. A scheme for employing professional and other educated women suffering real hardship was also set on foot, and this should shortly prove commercially sound. The scheme is at present only in its infancy, but a member of the Committee has been good enough to devote a great deal of time to it, and to give it the benefit of her business experience. Any kind of mending, plain needlework, embroidery, etc., is undertaken, and the work is collected, completed, and returned, usually within a week. If desired an estimate is given before the work is-started. The value of such a service to bachelors, busy women, etc., requires no emphasising. Readers are asked to help by making it known to all their friends and acquaintances.
6.All these schemes permit of almost indefinite expansion IF the funds are forthcoming. One word must be added about their financial aspect. We are aware that the rate of wages paid to our workers is frequently criticised as being high, mainly, if not entirely, by persons unacquainted with the hard facts of industrial life. Our view is that the League's sole claim to existence is that it tries to provide help for those suffering from the tragic prolongation of widespread unemployment, and that, therefore, it could not take advantage of that tragedy by seeking to lower the standard of living among its employees. The average payment per man during both seasons worked out at £3, and the average number of persons who had to subsist on this weekly income was four. If a deduction of from 10/- to 12/- is made for rent, 3/- for the man's travelling expenses, and 1/2 for insurance, it will be realised that there is only 11 /- a head left to provide food, clothing, warmth, light, and all the other necessities of life, a sum which lends itself to criticism on the score of its inadequacy more readily than on that of profligacy.
(B) PROVISION OF CLOTHES.
7.The Workroom. Generally speaking, the League concentrates on giving help that leads directly to obtaining employment. Sometimes men or women receive offers of work which they are unable to seize because their clothes have reached so bad a state of shabbiness, often amounting to raggedness. In such cases the League provides the necessary clothes. Some of these clothes are gifts from sympathisers, and some are made in our own Workroom.
Owing to the change of premises from
(C) BOARDING OUT OF CHILDREN IN THE COUNTRY.
8.Children's Care. Realising the devastating results on children of long periods of under-nourishment and the other inevitable miseries of unemployed homes, the Committee decided to allocate part of its funds for their special benefit. A plan was devised for boarding children out in selected village homes under careful supervision, as only in this way could individual children get the full value of the money spent on their behalf, while the family was helped by being relieved of responsibility for one member.
The Committee were most fortunate in enlisting the sympathy and practical enthusiasm of Mrs. Potter, living at Burton Latimer. This lady not only found the necessary niches in the cottages in and around that village, but came to
The following letter from a Lady Almoner is in itself a rich reward both to the subscribers and the workers of the League :
(D) FINANCIAL GRANTS FOR SPECIAL CASES.
9.In addition to the provision of clothing, financial help is often needed to enable a man to take up work in order that he may redeem his tools from pawn, or have money to pay the fares to the place appointed. Whatever is necessary to enable the opportunity of employment to be made effective is done in every case.
10.The League has worked in close and friendly cooperation with the Charity Organisation Society, Young Men's Christian Association, Soldiers' and Sailors' Families Association, United Services Fund, British Red Cross, Church Army, Friends of the Poor, and about 40 other different Agencies; and the majority of individuals are recommended and dealt with through these channels. About 1,638 cases have been referred to the League, of whom 1,351 were helped.
11.In addition, a great many personal applications were made when the offices were at
12.In the Employment Department in 1922-23, 150 men were interviewed for work, of whom 85 were engaged, and in 1923-24, 108 men, of whom 72 were engaged.
13.The financial position of the League is a matter of constant anxiety, the need for schemes of relief such as those devised by its Committee being almost unlimited, and the expenditure involved considerable ; whilst it is entirely dependent on funds raised by voluntary efforts and by appeals in the Press, the results of which must always be uncertain.
14.At Christmas, 1922, The Rev. Studdert Kennedy wrote a letter to The Times on behalf of the League. There was a wonderful response to his Appeal, donations pouring in of sums ranging from one shilling to £250. These included gifts of £150 from the Royal Family. Altogether, the sum of £6,611 was raised, and it was thus made possible to enlarge the scope of the League very considerably. Early in January, 1923, the Hospital Employment and other Employment Schemes were started, and on January 7th, the first batch of children were sent away under the Children's Care Scheme.
15.The Auditors’ Report on the Accounts for the eighteen months ended 31st May, 1924, was very satisfactory.
A noteworthy feature of those accounts, to which the Auditors drew attention, was the comparatively small percentage of the income which had been expended in Administration and Publicity. Not many Societies can boast of 82^ per cent, of their income being available for expenditure on their philanthropic efforts.
Attention may also be drawn to the very small expenditure upon Printing, Postage, and Publicity generallyonly £1,094 in all in eighteen months.
It only remains to underline the final feature of the accounts, namely, that they show that the League is, as already indicated, IN URGENT NEED OF FURTHER FINANCIAL SUPPORT. The balance in hand at the 31st May has since been depleted by over £1,500, and calls for an early access of income.
16.Through the kindness of Mr. Stewart Green, of Messrs. Green & Abbott,
17.At the end of February new premises had to be found. Messrs. Holland, Hannen & Cubitts, Ltd., kindly gave permission for the League to occupy rooms in Devonshire House, subject to the consent of the Combined Hospitals Appeal. This was generously granted, and four rooms put at our disposalthe League contributing 14/- weekly towards the wages of porters, night watchmen, etc. Owing to the sale of the premises in June of this year, it became necessary to change our quarters once more, and a permanent office has now been rented at 23, Bedford Row, W.C.I. The premises are most convenient and comfortable, and have been secured at a very reasonable rent. There is unfortunately no accommodation available for the Workroom or Bachelors' Mending Service, but owing to the kindness of the Duke of Westminster two rooms have been lent to the League at 65,
18.Miss Neville was appointed Secretary in October 1922, and the League has been fortunate in having the services of so unselfish, devoted and capable an officer.
19.From October to Christmas 1922, the paid staff of the Office and Workroom numbered only three, but after the result of the Christmas Appeal had come in, it was found necessary to enlarge the Office staff, and two more workers were engaged. In addition, Mrs. Hosier and the
20.The thanks of the League are due to many voluntary helpers who have done much excellent work. Special mention must be made of Miss Bushby's valuable and untiring help to the League throughout these two seasons.
21.The Committee desire to place on record their keen appreciation of the valuable help given by the Press. The low cost of the collection of funds is chiefly due to the generous way in which the Press has responded to the
22.During the summer months of 1923 a Fete was organised in Devonshire House and its grounds. Sir George Lawson Johnston generously offered to erect a replica of an Old English Village in the garden, whilst in the house Concerts and Side-shows of various kinds were arranged in the afternoon, and in the evening there was dancing and an admirable Cabaret Show. A Produce Market was held in the Courtyard, which opened at 6 a.m., to enable the chefs of big hotels, etc., to purchase their supplies at it.
23.H.R.H. The Princess Royal opened the Fete, and our most grateful thanks are due to our President, the Marchioness of Carisbrooke, who not only took charge of a stall, but assisted the organisers in every possible way. The very hot weather was disastrous to the financial success of the F etc, but very valuable publicity was secured and a host of new friends interested in the League's work, so that a good foundation was laid for future developments. So many people gave freely of their time, work and influence that it would be invidious to single out names, with the exception of that of Lady Clementine Waring, the Hon. Organiser, to whom the League owes so much that it is impossible to keep silence. Lady Clementine threw herself into the work with an unselfishness and enthusiasm which were a constant cause of admiration and amazement to those who knew how many other calls she had on her time and thoughts. The programme of the F ete was sent to all subscribers, and in its pages can be found the names of the many to whom our thanks are due.
24.In March 1924, a Sunday Afternoon Concert at the Palladium was kindly allotted to us by the National Sunday League. An admirable programme was arranged and the funds of the League benefited so substantially that it is hoped a similar opportunity may be secured during the ensuing season. Lady McKinnon most kindly consented to act as Chairman of the Ticket Selling Committee, and it is owing to her energy, ingenuity, and persistent hard work that the result was so satisfactory. The Committee's grateful thanks are due to her and to the members of her Committee, also to the artistes who so unselfishly gave their services.
"OLD BEAVER'S THEATRE OF MAGIC."
25.Mr. Griffith's clever and delightful magical enter-ainment, " Old Beaver's Theatre of Magic," has not only brought in a very welcome addition to the funds, but has entranced all the children lucky enough to see it, as well as their parents and friends. No more attractive and popular entertainment for a children's party could be imagined, and we hope all friends and subscribers will make known the fact that it is available for performances in private houses, village halls, etc., etc. Dates and terms by arrangement with "Old Beaver," alias The Rev. M. L. Griffith. All communications addressed to him at the Office, 23, Bedford Row, will receive immediate attention.
26.Owing to the thoughtfulness of our Chairman, Sir George Lawson Johnston, the League was enabled to participate m the Bovril Poster Competition, and the tickets sold through the League's efforts brought in a substantial sum.
27.Many other friends have arranged Thes Musicales and other events and so helped to keep up the work of the League. The knowledge that they have saved many a man or woman from despair and misery is the only reward they ask, but the Committee could not issue this report without expressing its appreciation of the kindness of its many subscribers and friends.
28.In conclusion, the Committee desire to thank all those who have helped it by their goodwill, thoughtfulness and unselfish support expressed in many and varied ways. The Auditors' Report will, we hope, satisfy them that every care and effort has been made to administer the League's funds economically and efficiently, and to utilise them so as to give adequate and practical help to as many sufferers from the terrible trade depression as possible. It will be long before the industrial markets are normal, and until that occurs, the need for the League's work will remain urgent. We confidently appeal for the continued help of all those who feel, as we do, that "The Noblest Charity is to Enable a Man to Dispense with Charity."
Signed on behalf of the Council