|Text of the Winter Distress League's review for 1932-3, originals loaned by Christine Weiss|
The Winter Distress League Review
ANNUAL REPORT, 1932-33
LIST OF PATRONS AND COUNCIL.
MESSRS. L. R. STEVENS & CO., Chartered Accountants, 5, Guildhall Chambers,
BARCLAYS BANK, LIMITED,
MISS NEVILLE, 2.1,
The Winter Distress League Review
We have such a lot of exciting and encouraging things to report to you this year ! We have helped more men than EVER before. At one time we had 200 men in employment
H.R.H. The Prince of Wales visited the Abbey Wood Allotments and talked with some of our men
The Prime Minister and Miss MacDonald gave a drawing room meeting for us at 10,
We found several new opportunities for co-operation with other schemes and so opened up new employment activities
Oh well, lots more, but perhaps we'd better be a little more decorously coherent and formal in our report, so may we please begin again ?
The most important thing of all to you and to us is how much help and hope have been given to men who have suffered so horribly through the economic problems which have now challenged the world for more than a decade. May just a few of them tell you in their own words and way what your goodwill has meant ?
LETTERS FROM THE MEN.
Dear Miss Neville,
Just a line to thank you for giving me employment this year. I cannot write to express how glad I was to get started, 1 only wish I could do something for you in return. Since leaving the League, I have been working for Mr. Beach at the Cecil Houses and for Mrs. Chesterton; 1 think I can safely say to every satisfaction.
Thanking yon and wishing the League all the good luck it deserves,
Dear Madam or Sir,
Just a few lines to say I am very sorry I have not sent a letter before this, but I am writing these few lines on behalf of my wife and myself and family to thank you all for your great kindness for what you have done for us all in giving me work for 13 weeks, as it give me and my family a good lift up, as work is very hard to find, as at the moment I am still out of work, so I thank you all once again for the Ladvs and Gentlemans in giving me work.
(Signed) Mr. & Mrs. I.
Dear Sir or Madam,
Just a line thanking you very much for finding me Employment as I can tell you it is very much needed as I am yours faithfully,
(Signed) Mr. I).
I crave your indulgence in writing you but I and my wife beg you accept both our sincere thanks and the season's greetings. We are indeed truly grateful for your magnificent work and the employment given to myself at this distressing period. We shall always feel it just wonderful.
(Signed) W. P. K. (M.C., D.C.M.)
You don't know how grateful I am to you, for the timely service you have rendered Nellie, Baby and me. My excuse for writing you instead of thanking you in person is, that I get flustered and excited and would most probably not express myself very plain so therefore the letter saves' me that embarrassment and I am sure you will understand how I feel, you know, even for the short time that I've been working has made an improvement on Nellie in general and of course Baby also. You have been the means of lifting a family depression from our young shoulders and I most sincerely thank you, and it-appreciation of your good work 1 want you to keep the matt which I have made myself for your personal use, or to make a present of it to somebody, that I leave at your own discretion, thanking you once again I must close the letter.
(Signed) Mr. G. o'B.
(The above was written to the Warden of the Settlement who introduced the man to us.)
Allow me to take this opportunity of thanking those responsible: for their great kindness and practical sympathy shown me and mine during the past very distressing period and I do assure you it has been a real relief and help in n genuine case of privation and under distressing circumstances and again may I thank you? We are truly grateful.
(Signed) W. P. K.
Just a line to thank you Very much for your Kindness But I am Very Pleased to Say I am not Finished work yet at the Distress League. But it may be this week we all go to Abbev Wood Thursday to See the Prince of Wales in Connection with the League which I Sincerely Hope will do the League a Lot of Good because it His Deserving of Every Support I have never worked for a Better Firm and only to Sorry to have to Leave.
Thanking you Very Much
I am yours Very Truly
(Signed) T. I'. The Wife and children Thank you for your Kind wishes.
I hope this note won't be taking up your time, but I feel it my duty to write and thank you for the consideration you have shown me, in being so generous in extending my time: it has certainly helped me over a great difficulty during the winter months. I would also like to add, if I may, that it has been a pleasure to work under such a just Foreman as Mr. Moulder and his kindly advice I have received from him on different matters re the work helped me a good deal. If I can be of any service to you at any future date, I shall be pleased to do so. Please convey my sincerest thanks to Miss Neville for all she has done for me.
(Signed) J. T. K.
Just a few lines to you which I think it is my duty to thank you very much for your great kindness in helping me for the past few months, my wife and I dont know really how to thank you for giving me employment with the League. I hope that everything what I have done as been satisfactory but the reason why I have wrote you is for helping me in Regards to fixing me up for Regular Employment with King's College Hospital and I thank you for all the help that you have given me in the past years fir without your assistance I don't know what would have happened to my family and myself.
I must now close,
(Signed) T. W. R.
I am so sorry I have not wrote you before, but I have had my wife ill, and I know you will understand. Well Madam I felt I must write and thank you and Captain Evans for your kindness in granting me work, I know you understand how glad I was to be again working for you. Well Madam, I started for St. Earths. Hospital, two weeks after the League finished, Mr. Nye kindly sent for me, and at present I am pleased to say I am still working at the Hospital, I know you are always glad to hear any good news concerning any of us. Well Madam I always remember the time when you gave me the chance I wanted, and it seems that my luck has changed for the best since then, so I always refer to you as the greates' woman I shall ever know. In conclusion I thank you, Captain Evans, and the staff, on behalf of my wife and children.
Madam I am yours faithfully, (Signed) J. M.
Just a line to thank you on behalf of my Wife and myself for your generous assistance at a time when it was most needed. Trusting you will excuse me addressing you direct.
I remain Sir
(Signed) W. W. M.
Just a line off thanks for the 17 weeks work you gave me, helping me with the maintenance off a wife and 5 children all under 14, trusting at any time you can do me a good turn I shall be very gratefull to you for it.
Thanking you once again for your kindness, I now close.
(Signed) G. W. K.
The very simplicity of these letters brings a lump into one's throat. A branch of the C.O.S. which had sent a number of men to us wrote "it was wonderful to see their joy at having the chance of a bit of work again." It doesn't seem much to ask of the world, does it, "the chance of a bit of work," and yet, had it not been for your practical assistance through the agency of this League probably none of these fellows would have had their " chance." They say so little of their troubles that it is hard to realise how desperate are the straits referred to so reticently, but here are a few of the nightmare facts of their lives.
H.P. is a married man with four dependent children. He had been a carman, but had been out of work for so long that the “dole" was exhausted and he was unwilling to go to the P.A.C. He had latterly been selling fruit from 6.30 a.m. till 10 at night "on commission," only earning from 2/- to 3/- a day. When the home was visited, the only food in it was two small dry crusts, a ham-bone nearly bare, and a little sugar and margarine. There was a pile of pawnticketspractically everything had been pawned, even the children's boots. The Care Committee who sent the man to us said that a year ago these people were cheerful and hopeful, with a nicely kept home, and now everything had gone. One of our subscribers guaranteed wages for H.P. and he was employed by the League for four months, proving an excellent worker.
W.D. is married, and has 4 dependent children under 8. He had been a printer's labourer until two years ago when the firm closed down, since then he had had one week's work. The family were mi Transitional Benefit (31/3.), with a rent of 14,-plus 1/- for light. The Worker who recommended the family to us told us that they had made a most plucky struggle, but that Mrs. D. was now very depressed and far from well, owing to lack of food. W.D. was also put into employment, his wages being guaranteed by a subscriber. His wife was expecting another child, so we sent two of the family to the country for a prolonged period in order to give her a rest and enable the family to get on their feet again.
J.M., his wife and S children, all except one under 14, were living in two small basement rooms under appalling conditions when they were recommended to us. They had been receiving relief for some time, but the P.A.C. in their area were only offering indoor relief in many cases, of which this was one. The Society who told us of J.M. said the family was a very devoted one and that it would be a real hardship for them to be sent to the Workhouse. We put J.M. into work.R.D. was married, with 4 dependent children. He had been employed at a public house of good standing, and when his employer found himself obliged to dismiss him, he gave him excellent references and even put an advertisement in the paper to try to get him a new job. When R.D. first came to us the family income was 29/3, out of which they were paying 16/6 rent, and 2/4 life insurance. The wife is very delicate, and suffers a great deal of pain, and a boy of 7 had chronic asthma. The Head Mistress of the school, who knew the family well, said that Mrs. D. was extremely plucky, that neither she nor her husband asked for or would accept charity, and that she considered the case the most needy and most worthy of help in the whole school. A subscriber guaranteed wages for R.D. and we kept him in work for 24 weeks.
H. J. M.'s story is a somewhat unusual one. The family returned from
W.S. was employed by the League two years ago. This season both the C.O.S. and the P.A.C. begged us to give him work again. Last summer he had a severe breakdown and was admitted to hospital with melancholia, caused in the doctor's opinion entirely by the fruitless search for work and the consequent worry. At the time the C.O.S. wrote he was fit for work again and a subscriber guaranteed his wages, so that we were able to employ him for 21 weeks. We sent the children away for all the family were all in a very bad state of health.
H.Q.W. had done no work for a very long time, owing to neurasthenia, and was getting steadily worse. It was agreed by doctors and the Public Assistance Committee that work was the only thing to help him; but naturally no ordinary employer would look at him, for although he had good references he really looked and was suicidal. We gave him special work on the land which did not involve heavy digging and he did it extremely well. He was very happy and got stronger and better, until he got very bad bronchitis. We have got him back again now after many weeks absence, and it is wonderful what work is doing for him; before very long he will probably be fit to apply for work in the ordinary labour market. He served 3 years during the War.
J.A., a married man with six children under eleven, was recommended to us by the C.O.S. The family was occupying two miserable rooms for which they paid 16/6 out of their income of 37/3. When the home was visited in the middle of the winter, the children were in rags, and the infant in the pram wearing a sack made into a dress, with an old coat as a coverlet. We were able to employ J.A. and he is doing well.
A.T.H. was recommended by the C.O.S. who wrote that the only thing which could save him from a complete breakdown was work. He was a superior man who had held a reliable position for six years as surveying engineer under the Egyptian Government at a salary of £550 per annum. He lost this work in 1927 owing to the reduction of British staff in
J.E.B. was recommended to us by the C.O.S. He had nine children under eleven, and the family of thirteen were living in two rooms and paying 8/- rent. Their income consisted of 41/3 Unemployment Benefit and 5/3 a week Army Reserve pay. In spite of the size of this family and the living accommodation the home was wonderfully well-kept. We gave J.E.B, work, and kept him on at the end of the usual three months, as he was just moving into new premises and we were anxious to help him to settle down satisfactorily.
H.J.P. is married with seven children, all living in one room, rent 6/6. The man was a blacksmith by trade but had been out of work for a very long time and was getting very despondent. The C.O.S. had tried unsuccessfully to emigrate the family in 1930. P. is an intelligent, hard-working man. We started him as a labourer at one of the Hospitals, but he applied himself so well to the work that he turned out first-class enamelling work and was promoted to be a painter.
T.M. formerly lived in
Last season we had nearly 2,000 applications for work. We were only able to take on 288 of the men, for we hold firm to our policy of employing a small number of men for a longish period rather than a large number for a short time, because we know that it takes many weeks to clear off the debts, redeem the pawned possessions, and bring a home devastated by long unemployment back to anything approaching normality. But as, except under very special circumstances, we always give preference to the men with the heaviest family responsibilities, a far larger number of people benefit than is represented by the actual working force. Four dependents per man has proved to be an extremely conservative estimate; indeed, on one occasion, when a lady kindly invited the children of six men working at a hospital to a party, she found she had thirty-six additional guests ! and that without the wives ! !
PUTTING MEN INTO JOBS.
In addition to the men the League itself employed 1,081 were assisted in various ways to take up available jobs. Think of the bitterness of seeing a chance of work and all it means in front of you and having to watch it pass by because of the lack of decent clothes, tools, the money for the first week's fares or some necessity of that kind, trifling to us, but as insurmountable a barrier to a man with nothing as £100 would be; We have scores no, that's an understatement hundreds of cases where the provision of a few shillings, boots, suit of clothes, a set of tools or some surgical appliance has definitely enabled a man to save himself and ret going again. Isn't it worth doing? Isn't it in act just about the most satisfactory and heart-warming achievement it's possible to conceive of? Here are just 3 out of many letters.
I beg to remain, Your humble servant,
(Signed) C. F., Late and 16th
I wish to thank you for the boots you so kindly sent me last week.
By their aid I was enabled to start work on Monday, and lave been so busy all the week, and so tired at night that I have been unable to write before, so am taking the opportunity of a little respite to do so now.
(Signed) R. H. V.
It is with deep gratitude that I write and thank you for your kind assistance in redeeming my clothes from pledge so is to enable me to take every advantage of the situation that have been offered. I hope that my keen desire to succeed coupled with my sincere gratitude will gratify your difficult work.
We did something unusual last winter which we hope you will approve of ! The Mayor of a Cheshire Borough wrote asking us to co-operate in a scheme he was trying to get going to help the unemployed in his borough, where the percentage of population out of work was appalling. After very careful discussion, the Committee decided that compassion had no geographical Limitations, and so we agreed to make a contribution to be used only for wages, on condition that the Mayor didn't tell all the other Mayors in distressed areas about it! In his reply he said our letter '' acted on the Town Clerk and myself like a ray of sunshine on a dull winter's morning," which made us feel very glad we had been neighbourly. 10 men were employed for nearly 3 months is a result of our grant.
In the above scheme the money came from the League's coffersbut we had several lovely opportunities for spending other people's money which we seized joyously with both hands.
Many of our subscribers probably know of the splendid "Spend for Employment" idea of the Rotary Clubs of
The Time and Talents Settlement collected a sum for the benefit of Bermondsey men and asked us to find the employment. All the men were interviewed in the usual way at our office, and 12 put oil to Waste Lands Cultivation, the Settlement bearing the full cost. Then the Bishop of Southwark asked us to undertake work at various Institutions in his huge, densely populated diocese, employing local men whose wages were paid out of a special fund at his disposal. In Kensington we were asked to handle a Waste Lands cultivation scheme, a condition being that a third of the men employed lived in that borough, the Kensington Council of Social Service being prepared to pay their wages.
Schemes which provide work for our men without depleting our funds strike us as positively heaven sent, and, like Oliver Twist, we only ask for more !
THE WORK SCHEMES.
We have, as usual, done much useful work that could not otherwise have been tackled for various hospitals and institutions, the list is given below, rv new avenue of employment was found in providing "stewards" for several of the occupational or recreational clubs for unemployed in and near
Those who listened, as most of us I am sure did, to Mr. S. P. Mais' talks on what was being done by-private effort to alleviate unemployment, realise what a boon the. clubs are, not only to the men themselves, but indirectly to the wives and families herded in cramped quarters with frayed nerves and tempers sharpened by fear and anxiety. Incidentally we hope all subscribers heard the very nice description of the League's work given by Mr. Mais in the course of his second talk.
Last season we made our first experiment in land reclamation, and its success led to expansion in this direction. Here is a complete list of our Good Lands for Bad work since May 3ist, 1932 :
1. ABBEY WOOD. We have completed the preparation of 326 plots, and when the remaining six acres have been cleared, there will be over 400 allotments; they are taken up as fast as we hand them over to the Woolwich Council of Social Service, many of them by our men. The soil is splendid, but in many places water lies so close to the surface that it is necessary to build up the level by as much as 4ft. to 4ft. 6in. H.R.H. The Prince of Wales ..... (no, that must still wait a bit).
3. LOMOND GROVE CAMBERWELL. This piece of land was also given for allotments. Like all
4. PRINCESS LOUISE HOSPITAL. This hospital owned a piece of waste land sufficient for eleven plots, and was anxious to turn an ugly waste into productive gardens. All the allotments have been taken up by Kensington men under the direct aegis of the Hospital.
6.DALGARNO GARDENS. (The Kensington scheme already referred to.) This land was to be used for a Community Centre building and a recreation ground, and a high mound had to be demolished. It took two months, during which time more than 4,000 tons of earth were moved, partly in lorries (421 loads), mainly in hand barrows (36,000 loads).
So you see we have been very busy and very catholic in our affinities! One very nice feature of the land and club schemes is that they continue through the .summer months and so enable us to keep on a number of men in particularly desperate circumstances. Though this report is only supposed to deal with the twelve months ended May 3ist, 1933, nice news should never be cold storaged, and so we'll just whisper to you that we had forty men employed all through June and a considerable, though gradually diminishing number throughout the summer months.
WASTE LANDS CULTIVATION SCHEMES.
HOSPITALS AND INSTITUTIONS HELPED.
Here is the list of institutions and clubs helped and a few of the very nice letters they all wrote us:
9th November, 1932
I am writing on behalf of the Executive Committee of the Margaret Club and Day Nursery to ask you to convey to your Committee their very deep gratitude for supplying workmen for the redecoration of the Nursery.
The condition of the Nursery is very bad but the Committee could never have attempted to do the necessary work had the League not come to their rescue in this way. The Committee is still £2,500 in debt for the building of the Nursery, so this work would have had to wait indefinitely although it is almost essential.
Will you please express our gratitude to the League for so generously helping us in this way.
(Signed) C. M. GOWERS.
Dear Miss Neville,
I ought to have written last week to say how very grateful we are to the W.D.L. for doing up our Club so beautifully. We are delighted with it, and so are all the people who use it. It almost seems too good to be true to see it looking so nice. And the men were so good in clearing up and leaving it nice, and very patient in the way they went on working while other things got in their way.
With very many thanks to you all,
(Signed) ELEANOR J. M. HOARK.
Dear Captain Evans,
I am writing unofficially to say how delighted we are with the redecorations of the Venture. No doubt there will be a letter from the Committee also. The hall looks most attractive and we are also very glad to have such a clean staircase and office upstairs.
The men were most obliging and made very little disturbance. The Hall is being used every day, and almost all day long and looks very nice indeed. We are most grateful to the Winter Distress League.
Yours truly, RACHAEL K. ALEXANDER.
Dame Colet House,
Dear Miss Neville,
My Committee wish me to express to you their gratitude for allowing them to benefit by the work of the Winter Distress League. They were delighted with the appearance of Dame Colet House. The men who carried out the work were so nice and interested. Had it not been for your coming to the rescue, we should not have been able to have the House painted.
We are indeed most grateful to you,
(Signed) PHYLLIS C. ROBINSON, Hon. Sec.
The Girls’ Hostel,
Dear Miss Neville,
The workmen have finished their job here and we should like to let you know how very pleased we are with the work that has been done. It has made quite a new home of our Hostel.
And we should like to give a word of appreciation to the workmen themselves.
Mr. B. has called frequently to see that all was going well and the men themselves have been most quiet and obliging, giving us the minimum of inconvenience for the number of rooms they have redecorated, and they have been most careful in cleaning up and leaving everything as tidy as possible.
We are most grateful,
(signed) F. F. WARREN, Superintendent.
Dear Miss Neville,
I write at the request of the Board of Management to ask you to be so good as to convey to your Committee how deeply the Hospital has appreciated the very generous help which the Winter Distress league have been so good as to give this year in allocating four painters and four labourers for the period from the 19th December, 1932 to the 21st April 1933. The work which they have done has proved invaluable and could not possibly have been undertaken without your generous assistance.
We are indeed greatly indebted to the organisation of the Winter Distress Laegue and I am bound to say that I feel that there is no other organisation outside the immediate scope of the Hospital world which helps so substantially the work of this Institution as you do.
(Signed) W. PARKES, Secretary.
Miss Neville, Winter Distress League.
Will you allow me to thank the League very much indeed for all the work that has been done in this hospital.
We found the men most diligent and quiet about their work, and it was almost a pleasure to have them about the building. They all seemed most interested and keen, and I thought, worked remarkably well. Again thanking you all, Believe me,
(Signed) D. W. ROSIER, Matron.
Extract from letter dated 19th May, 1933, Willesden General Hospital,
The Committee wish me to place on record their most grateful thanks for the wonderful help the Winter Distress League have extended to us; without such help, it would have been absolutely impossible to carry out certain essential works.
The standard of the work carried out by the men, under the very capable Foremanship of C. has been most satisfactory; they have worked well and cheerfully.
(Signed) R. HEARNE, Secretary.
Captain W. H. Evans, Winter Distress League.
I reported to our Governors at their Court which was held recently the fact that the Hospital had received very valuable assistance from the Winter Distress League in respect of the painting of our Residents' Hostel. I was desired to convey to you an expression of our most grateful thanks.
The work done was very necessary, but it could not have been carried out, owing to financial stringency, without the assistance of the League.
I should like to add that the work was effected exceptionally well, and in the matter of the arrangements everything was done to meet our convenience.
Again expressing our sincere thanks and appreciation,
I am, Yours faithfully,
(Signed) ARTHUR G. ELLIOTT, House Governor.
Dear Lord Luke
At our Committee this afternoon a resolution was unanimously passed recording our gratitude to the Winter Distress League for the work carried out during the past vear. The brightening of the Hospital by painting the corridors is an undertaking which could not possibly have been accomplished without your assistance. The result has been admired by a large number of visitors and old friends of the Hospital have remarked upon the improved appearance due to the work of your League.
It seems to my Committee that no better plan could he conceived than yours for helping two sorts of lame dogs over the same stileHospitals which are always hard up, and the unemployed who now seem to be always with us.
We are very grateful for your help.
(Signed) BEATTY, Chairman.
St. Mary Magdalene, Paddington,
I am sure you would like to know how the Manager you so kindly sent me for our Unemployed Club is getting on. . . .
Mr. G. came here at very short notice, as you know, to start a club for unemployed men of this neighbourhood, he was given complete charge of a Hall with a certain amount of equipment. In the first week his numbers had risen to over 100, and in the second week to nearly 200. The men were of all ages from 16 upwards, and naturally we had not sufficient games, or space, to interest them for the whole time. Mr. G. worked in very well with a Committee of the unemployed and the whole scheme is running very smoothly. He seems very capable and knows how to handle the men very well. He runs a canteen, and this shows very useful profit each week. I am extremely grateful to you for sending him to us, and I think we are very lucky to have secured the services of such a capable Manager.
(Signed) C. GAULT, Vicar.
Dear Miss Neville,
The Occupational Centres (held at the Whitfield's Central Mission and the Toe H Hall, Highgate Road), are doing very valuable work in the Borough of St. Pancras thanks to you for your splendid co-operation and are kept exceedingly busy all day long. The Instructors, H.S. and W. are giving good service.
Mr. W. has made himself almost indispensable to us and the way in which he manages these Centres together with the help and advice (sometimes on very difficult matters) he is able to give these poor fellows is to be much admired. . . .
The men using these Centres greatly appreciate what is being done to help them and such knowledge is most encouraging.
With many thanks for all your past kindness. Believe me to remain,
Yours very truly,
(Signed) A. J. PILGRIM.
Dear Miss Neville,
Many thanks for your letter informing me of the kindness of your Committee in appointing Mr.. P. to take the oversight of the Club for the Unemployed. It is a great boon to the men who gather here and a wonderful thing for Mr. P. himself. . . . I think it is a very great work your League is doing and I tender my heartiest thanks to you and your Committee.
(Signed) R. S. BIRCH.
The poet Lowell wrote " not what we give but what we share, For the gift without the giver is bare," and of course there is an indescribable joy in the knowledge that the carrying out of our immediate job of work-finding blesses so many other people and organisations. Any reasonable system of accounts would add rows and rows of units to every shilling given to the W.D.L, to express the results achieved, but then accounts are notoriously lacking in elasticity, especially on the credit side!
5 men were retained by hospitals requiring staff additions: 39 others obtained jobs whilst working for us. The list of occupations previously followed by our men is terrible in its significance, when one remembers that all our fellows have good records of work and character (with the exception of a few who have fallen by the way under the stress of temptation), and that without exception, real efforts to find openings precede their coming to us.
LIST OF OCCUPATIONS PREVIOUSLY FOLLOWED BY MEN EMPLOYED.
If you will please look at the statement about ' J.A.' in the earlier part of this report, you will need no explanation of why we need to keep a clothing Department going. The difficulties of administering it aright are great, but that doesn't matter when results prove that its usefulness is immense. Practically all the men we employ need clothes and boots NEED, not - want, them and it would be impossible for them to do the land work in their own precarious footwear. The Personal Service League allotted us 31 bales and packing cases, and we had good supplies of really useful stuff from many private donors, acknowledged in the balance sheet. The repairing of boots and shoes free of charge by the
At the request of two clubs, we also provided two "instructors" in boot repairing (themselves of course unemployed men), and they were so successful in arousing the interest and directing the efforts of the club members that over 1,000 pairs of boots and shoes belonging to the men and their families were soled and heeled.
It has been said that although we cannot see God we can recognise Him in loving kindness, and the special giving of our subscribers took the heavenly message of goodwill straight into many homes where it would not otherwise have been audible. One woman wrote :
Dear Miss Neville,
A line to say how very delighted I was and am with your kind remembrance. It was so unexpected tooI've got sort of used to being unnoticed, and I've never had a Christmas hamper before; but its almost impossible to give you an idea of the joy you've, given. Not the food part of it so much as being remembered; for I've been so long almost an "outsider," and merely an onlooker at other people living. Then the contents of the hamper, gave me thrill after thrill of almost unbelievable realization of dreams. . . . Twas the greatest treat, digging up contents of basket and finding such delightful surprises. It is hopeless trying to let you know how I felt and feel and words fail to express my gratitude to you.
I know how busy you are, so I'll not bore you with a longer letter. And I want to say how very sincerely I wish you "Happy Christmas"; and every happiness and success in the New Year. God bless you ever, dear Miss Neville.
Yours ever gratefully and devotedly,
Doesn't that tear one's heartstrings ? "used to being unnoticed "" an onlooker at other people living." Deal-subscribers, thank you, oh thank you for letting us be your ambassadors of goodwill. Over 1,000 people had Christmas gifts, chiefly food, from you, and we had the joy of packing and sending them and of hearing what happiness they had brought. Here are one or two more letters, not perhaps so poignantly expressed as the first, but surely full of reward for givers.
Bethnal Green, E.2..
Just a line in thanking you very much for the Christmas parcel which I had from you as it came a great God-send to me and my family. If it had not been for your parcel I don't know how we would have got on, as there is 8 of us in the family. But I hope things will brighten up soon, please God, for me and my children's sake, as things are very bad.
Thanking you once again for your kindness,
Yours very respectfully,
(Signed) MRS. T.
Am writing to thank you for the hamper which came in very acceptable iii the circumstances, as things are just the same, but we hope that things will be brighter and better for all of us during the coming year.
Wishing you and your subscribers a prosperous New Year, We remain,
(Signed) MR. & MRS. C.
Dear Miss Neville,
Just a letter thanking you for the Christmas parcel which came in very needful. I was just wondering how I was going to manage when your good letter came. I hope you had a pleasant Christmas and will have a happy New Year.
Thanking you and all members of the League for your goodness and kindness to me in my time of need,
(Signed) MRS. C.
Just a few lines to thank you, on behalf of my wife and myself, for the help you afforded us at Christmas, it was most acceptable and I should like you to thank also your Committee for thinking of us.
Thanking you once again,
I remain, Yours gratefully,
(Signed) A. W. A.
29th December, 1933,.
Dear Miss Neville,
May I thank you and friends for your generous parcel received. If you had seen ten smiling faces made happy by you, I'm sure you would have felt amply repaid, and if there is any possibility of work, I shall be grateful.
(Signed) G. T.
Bethnal Green, E.
Just a few lines thanking you for your kindness towards me at Christmas, as it came so acceptable, as my husband has not done any work since May, and I only wish you could find him some.
I must now conclude with very very best wishes for a bright and happy New Year.
(Signed) MRS. B. A.
I now take the opportunity of writing to thank you for the Christmas parcel I received. I'm sure it was very kind of vou to remember us. Without it I really don't know how we would have managed, as I have had my husband laid up for six weeks. Now that he is better, my baby who is six years old, has been very ill. We have had to get along the best way we could on side pay and I must say it has been a hard struggle to make ends meet. Thanking you once more for the gifts and wishing you and all the Winter Distress League, a "Happy New Year,"
(Signed) MRS. M.
There are dozens more we have no room to quote.
THE CHILDREN'S CORNER.
And now for the bairns. Such frail, piteous little people when we first see them, such bonny, happy ones when the fairy godmothers (that's you) have dealt with them, so that their parents are "surprised to see their splendid condition" (see letter from Mr. and Mrs. D.). Love they get in full measure, but that is all their harassed parents can give them adequately, and their poor little under-nourished bodies react on their spirits and make them listless and weary, until the fresh air, ample food and good clothing restore their childhood heritage of health and joyousness.
Isn't it really marvellous the way Mrs. Potter goes on year after year shouldering the responsibility and work of placing and supervising so many small people, her great mother-heart adding the sunshine of love to our material arrangements; though we must include the foster parents in that last tribute.137 kiddies went away for an average stay of 12 weeks.
Lambeth, S.E. 1
Please accept the thanks of Mrs. D. and myself for the kindness you and your Committee have shown in giving our children David and Edward such a splendid holiday.
We were very much surprised to see the splendid condition they were in when they returned home.
1 am sure no children. could have made such wonderful improvement in the way they have without receiving very generous and kind and homely treatment. Their appearance for the better was very marked so much so that all their little playmates could say was "Ain't they fat, Mrs. Doherty"! I am sure Mrs. R. and Mrs. B. their foster mothers must lie really very good people to have charge of little children and I am taking the opportunity of writing and thanking them also, they came home clean and tidy well clothed and booted and in every way very satisfied with their long holiday.
When I asked them if they were glad to be at home with us again they said yes of course for a while, but would like us to go and live at
So you see by that answer how taken up they were with the village life.
I would also like to thank Mrs. Potter for her kindness in keeping us informed of their well being. So again thanking you Miss Neville and all concerned we remain,
MR. and MRS. F. D.
Please excuse me if I have not put anything clear enough but accept its genuineness for any fault in that way as 1 do not write letters very often as my correspondence is very limited.
(From one of the children.)
Dear Miss Neville,
I am writing you these lines to thank you very much for the lovely holiday you have given us, we have had a very nice time and the people we stayed with have been very kind to us. I know I will not be able to come another year as I shall be starting work next month, so I hope I will be able to help my mother, so please accept my sincere thanks on behalf of my sister and brother and myself.
P.S. I am very sorry my mother is so poor in health.
I am writing to thank you for the beautiful holiday the children have had, for they have enjoyed themselves exceedingly well. They also wish to tell you that Mrs. B. also Mrs. C. were very kind indeed to them and were always made very happy and contented and said they would have very much liked to have stopped down there, providing they saw Mummy and Daddy now and again, they liked it so much they wish we could all have been down there. They have also improved in health.
Dear Madame, will you kindly let me thank you once again for your kindness to our two little children for the very nice holiday.
Yours very respectfully,(Signed) MR. & MRS.W
I hope you will please excuse me writing to you, but having been informed through Mr. Simpson of your kind offer for our two little boys to have an additional month's holiday we feel, that not being fortunate enough to thank you personally, we must at least write and express our gratitude for your kind offer which you are now Madam, probably aware we have gratefully accepted. We were, Madam, as you may be sure, expecting, and anxiously looking forward to seeing the children home again this week, as we have missed them ever so much since they have been away, but after having considered your kind offer, we came to the conclusion that as the children appear to be quite happy and comfortable, the extra month's holiday you . were kind enough to grant them, would certainly be to their advantage, and as the weather by that time is apt to be cold and foggy, it will complete a most splendid and helpful holiday, although Madam, we can assure you, we were well satisfied with the holiday the children already had. I would like to mention that both Mrs. N. and myself, have been and are proud of our two little boys, and the kindness you have extended to them Madam, as been fully appreciated by us both. I am pleased to say, that I am now in good health, but up to the present I have been unfortunate in securing employment, but how-ever it is a great consolation to know that I am quite capable, and well enough to do the work when the opportunity does arrive which I sincerely hope will be soon. Well by way of conclusion Madam, we would once again like to thank you, and all concerned for your kindness, and hope to see the children home again as arranged, quite well, and all the better for their most " exceptionally " good Holiday.
We remain, Madam,Your thankfully,
(Signed) MR. AND MRS. H. L. N.
Dear Miss Neville,
I am writing to thank you on behalf of the children, they have had a wonderful holiday and the results are really amazing. Mary whose photo is enclosed weighed on June 14th, 3St. 2lbs. 4ozs., and on November 9th, 4St. 4Ibs. 8ozs. Jose, June I4th, 351. I2lbs. 1.5ozs., and on November 9th, 4st. 3lbs. 10oz.
Please accept my wife and myself's thanks for the holiday that you have so kindly given them. I am, Miss,
Yours very respectfully,
(Signed) MR. A. C. B.
Dear Miss Neville,
Just a line to let you know our son Charlie has arrived home quite safe and well from
Dear Miss Neville, I must now send you my very many thanks for your esteemed kindness for which I am very grateful of.
(Signed) MR. & MRS. C.
Ladies and Gentlemen
H.R.H. THE PRINCE OF
Now, at last, we really can tell you about the wonderful, exciting thing that happened to us on April 13th. The Prince of Wales' deep and sympathetic interest in the greatest human problem of our age is known to all by his constant efforts, in person and by the spoken and written word.
What a moment it was when we saw the royal car speeding down the road towards us! The Mayor of Woolwich received H.R.H. and then he entered through a guard of honour of the men employed in the hospitals, etc. He went first to the hut presented by the Woolwich Rotary Club as a canteen, and distributed seeds and potatoes to some of the allotment holders. Then he inspected both the finished plots and the work in progress, and on our best remaining patch of bulrushes he was presented with a silver plated sickle and cut some of the growth. Of course silver plating is imposing but it doesn't provide a good cutting edge ! So the Prince's task was not a very easy one.
He was greatly interested in what Mr. Robson and Mrs. Wood told him of the League's methods, and exclaimed, "Now that is really.constructive work," and then he told them that he himself had been doing the same sort of thing in Windsor Park, where a group of men had been put on to do work that would otherwise not have been tackled and paid out of a special wage fund. We wish the League had a peacock's tail it could spread and strut! Of course we could write reams more about that day of days in our history, but we feel sure you read about it in the press and perhaps you saw the film, made by H.R.H.'s gracious permission and shown as a news item for many weeks.
On April 3rd Miss MacDonald kindly gave a Drawing Room meeting at 10,
Our two Big Events were supported by many less spectacular efforts. The Annual Report fortunately maintained its pleasing and encouraging habit of drawing more support annually and brought in the sum of £8,090 6s. 5d. The steady increase in the results of sending out the report is encouraging, because we feel that those who send money after reading our account of stewardship are satisfied that the League's methods are right, and that the Committee is carrying out its duties in a reasonably satisfactory way. It would of course be difficult to find such unconsciously eloquent pleaders as those letters and stories quoted in this report.
The appeal issued by Captain Stavert resulted in a sum of £4,621 1s. 10d. being added to our coffers, and the Christmas appeal, written by Canon Woodward and published in the Press brought in £428 4s. 6d. One subscriber organised a Carol Party and netted £14 for us, another so interested the Citizens of To-day in the League that they gave a special entertainment on our behalf and sent us £12 15s. 7d., and a third worked on the susceptibilities of the
To all the above kind people and to many others who have done all sorts of things to help us, often anonymously, we say "Thank you," really from our hearts. "Thank you" is a beautiful phrase; we searched all the dictionaries to discover something worthy of being said to our friends and came to the conclusion that if one thought and felt "thank you" it was impossible to find anything more comprehensive and profound.
Nineteen subscribers guaranteed the wages of specific men for varying periods. We like this way of linking up subscribers, the office and the men immensely. It is only human to like "close ups "and when a I subscriber knows all about the particular man benefiting by his or her generosity and the man knows that he is being helped by an individual, both gain something personal and private which cannot be supplied by a conglomerate fund! Even the promise that "1/- gives a man an hour's work" is a real satisfaction to many who cannot afford to give large sums. We had some large sheets of black paper on which anyone giving towards our funds could stick a silver star of hope this year, and they proved very effective collecting media. Several offices and restaurants have had these "Black Skies" with very successful results, and some of our Committee members hung them in their homes. We shall be very glad to supply on request a sky, stars and collecting box to any subscriber who would be able to display it. It really is a somewhat novel and telling form of collecting card.
The Employees' Voluntary Fund and the Emergency Fund of The Times again gave us much appreciated financial support. We are particularly glad that the funds of our great national newspaper should help us, because we know they would not give unless they were fully satisfied both as to the usefulness of the work and the care with which it was administered.
Another scheme for raising funds enabled us to provide employment in quite a new sphere so far as the League is concerned.
Many of our subscribers will probably remember the Children's Theatre, organised and managed by Miss Joan Luxton. She had gathered round her a complete organisation, the members of which found themselves out of work when the theatre was closed.
A member of our Committee suggested that we might give employment to the members of Miss Luxton's company, including of course workpeople connected with the stage, wardrobe and so forth, whilst benefiting our own coffers, and an arrangement was made for a series of entertainments on Saturday afternoons. These performances in the Portland Hall of the Polytechnic Annexe proved very successful, and drew overflowing and enthusiastic audiences on every occasion. Tea parties were made up in the delightful adjoining room during the interval, and added considerably to the general gaiety of the proceedings.
Miss Luxton also agreed to give performances in private houses, the profit on which should go to the League.
We report this venture with much pleasure, for considerable publicity was gained for our work, some welcome cash added to our funds, and employment given to a number of people who were badly in need of it.
We hope very much that it may be possible to repeat this arrangement during the coming Season, and we should be grateful if subscribers would remember, when arranging children's parties, that a unique and delightful entertainment can be hired at moderate cost, which will help the League as well as please their guests.
You will remember that on two previous occasions the Regent Advertising Club has given a party for a hundred of our children. They were kind enough to repeat their generous action last January, and for one afternoon at any rate 100 of our kiddies were transplanted straight to fairyland. The members of the Regent Advertising Club put into the entertaining of our small people all the ingenuity and cleverness which we feel sure distinguishes their respective advertising work, and add to it such good measure of understanding, jollity and kindness that it would be difficult to describe the entertainment adequately. While the children were shouting for joy in one hall, a less uproarious but we hope equally appreciated party was given for the mothers nearby, as the gift of several members of our Committee. It is positively necessary to give the mothers a good meal when the Regent Advertising Club entertain our children, as otherwise they would never be strong enough to carry home all the presents bestowed upon their offspring !
THE OFFICE STAFF.
The great increase of activity which followed our much-enhanced income naturally meant an even heavier burden of work than usual for the office staff. 2,789 applicants called at the office during the season; in every case sufficient details to know if we could help or not were taken, and in the vast majority the men actually had a personal talk with one of our more experienced workers. Although money is urgently necessary to do constructive work, all the money in the world would be useless without the personal interest shown by Miss Neville and her devoted staff, the patience with which they listen to story after story, unravelling rather incoherent and often complicated details, the time and thought which they give to trying to think of some way of helping and the perserverance with which they pursue their objectives.
That is what has made the Winter Distress League not only a useful piece of organisation but one which the men themselves speak of with respect and affection. Somebody told us that in talking casually to an unemployed man in the streets of
OUR LIST OF "THANK YOUS."
We have already mentioned a. good many of the people to whom our thanks are due, but there are still lots and lots to add. Mr. Arthur Dale, who twice lent us a motor van to help in moving things; Miss Nettle-fold and Miss Mclntyre, who continue the loan of their cellar as a storage space for some of our clothing; Miss McPherson, a student from Mrs. Hoster's School, who came to help us whilst waiting for a job and gave us nearly eight months' splendid and very skilled assistance. We are so glad that she has now got a fine post. Miss Baxter, Mrs. Cutler, Miss Dyson, Mrs. Cecil Eaton, Miss Hill, Mrs. Holt, Mrs. Robert Knox, Miss Main, Miss Marriage, Miss Murray, Miss Ranken, Mrs. Spratt. Miss Standring, Mrs. Stopford-Adams, Mrs. Tree and Miss Wilkinson, who all gave time and work in the office, often doing dull routine but necessary work. They are such unselfish, cheerful helpers and we are so fortunate to have their interest and active co-operation.
A number of Boy Scouts and Girl Guide companies contributed hampers of food and Christmas gifts either sending them to us for distribution or asking us for a special family to whom they could take them. Several other companies also asked us in the early part of the season for the ages and sizes of children in a definite family, so that they could make or collect clothing for them throughout the Winter. Wasn't that a splendidly practical thought of theirs?
The value of contributions is not in their amount but in the compassion and interest that prompts their sending; still, we feel that you would like to know that two wonderful gifts were sent to us : a contribution from Sir William and Lady Lister of £500 and an anonymous cheque for a like amount which reached us through Miss MacDonald. Can you imagine the excitement of the office when an envelope is opened and out tumbles a cheque for £500! Assuredly it has to be seen to be realised.
COUNCIL AND COMMITTEE.
We grieve to have to report the decease of three of our patrons, the Viscount Burnham, C.H., Lord Stafford and Sir Charles Starmer. Dr. Hilda Clarke has resigned from the Council and the Rev. Pat McCormick and Lady Greig have joined it. Lady Vernon resigned from the Executive Committee but remains a member of Council.
We have enlarged our Executive Committee this year by persuading Mrs. Cecil Eaton and Miss Rankin, who have both worked for us voluntarily for many years to come on, and we have also been fortunate enough to secure the services of Mr. John Robson, whose wonderful work as honorary organiser of the Friends' Allotment Scheme is of national importance, of Lord Poulett and of Mr. Kenneth Smith.
We should so like to print a full list of individual subscribers, but it is a very expensive matter and we turn such greedy eyes on every penny that comes to us for something more definitely useful. So we have again compiled the full record, which is available for inspection in our office, but are not printing a donations list in order to keep down our overhead expenses as much as possible.
How we wish we could close this report by saying that there is no further need for private organisations to tackle the grim enemy of unemployment. But alas, although it is cheering to hear from those in close touch with the financial and industrial world that there is a slight improvement and that the trend is at last upward instead of downward, the pitiful army of men asking for work without result is still with us and its ranks will thin very, very slowly. It is important to realize that the balance shown in the accounts on May 31st represented the wages of the men employed through the summer and autumn, and it therefore no longer exists. So will you please again help us to have our little company of employees, by continuing the support which has meant so much to thousands of men over the last eleven years.
"Excelsior" is our motto, so we want again to increase the number of men employed and helped to obtain employment, the number of children sent to the country, and all the things that mean so much in hope, in happiness and in health to those to whom you give them.
Signed on behalf of the Council,
ETHEL M. WOOD,
FRANCIS GOODENOUGH, Honorary Treasurer.