Page:1902 Encyclopædia Britannica - Volume 26 - AUS-CHI.pdf/742

This page needs to be proofread.




istic. And, as has been shown, since they injure the family and weaken independence, they cannot be charitable. They are naturally associated with regulated or statutory labour, whether in connexion with a statute of wages or the laws of a trades union, for where such measures fail, or seem to fail to provide a sufficient livelihood, relief in some form is called in to supplement the actual or assumed deficiency. Thus charity and socialism, in the usual meaning of the word, imply two quite different theories of social life, and are not in any way compatible. The springs of charity lie in sympathy and religion. To organize it is to give to it the “ ordered nature ” of an organic whole, to give it a definite social purpose, The organ- ant[ to associate the members of the community 'charity 0f ^or fulfilment °f that purpose. This in turn depends on the recognition of common principles, the adoption of a common method, self-discipline and training, and co-operation. In a mass of people there may be a large variation in motives coincident with much unity in action. Thus there may be acceptance of a common social purpose in charity, while in one the impulse is similar to that which moved St Francis or George Herbert, in another to that which moved Howard or Dr Chalmers, or a modern poor-law reformer like Nickolls or Denison. Accepting, then, the principles of charity, we pass to the method in relation to assistance and relief. Details may vary, but on the following points there is general agreement among students and workers :— (1) The Committee or Conference.—There are usually two kinds of local relief: the public or poor-law relief, and relief connected with religious agencies. ^Besides, there is the relief of endowments, societies, and charitable persons. Therefore, as a condition precedent to all organization, there must be some local centre of association for information and common help. A town should be divided for this purpose into manageable areas coincident with parishes or poor-law divisions, or other districts. Subject to an acceptance of general principles, those engaged in charity should be members of a local conference or committee, or allied to it. The committee would thus be the rallying-point of a large and somewhat loosely knit association ol friends°and workers. (2) Inquiry, Aid, and Registration.—The object of inquirv is to ascertain the actual causes ot distress or dependence, and to carry on the work there must usually be a staff of several honorary and one or two paid workers. Two methods may be adopted: to inquire in regard to applications for help with a view to forming some plan of material help or friendly aid, or both, which will lead to the ultimate self-support of the family and its members, and, under certain conditions, in the case of the aged or sick, to their continuous or their sufficient help ; or to ascertain the facts partly at once, partly by degrees, and then to form and carry out some plan of help, or continue to befriend the family in need of help, in the hope of bringing them to conditions of self-support, leaving the work of relief entirely to other agencies. The committee in neither case should be a relief committee—itself a direct source of relief. On the former method it has usually no relief fund, but it raises from relations, employers, charities, and charitable persons the relief required, according to the plan of help agreed upon, unless, indeed, it is better not to relieve the case, or to leave it to the poor-law. The committee thus makes itself responsible for endeavouring to the best of its ability to raise the necessary relief, and acts as trustee for those who co-operate without it, in such a way as to keep intact and give play to all the natural obligations that lie within the inner circles of a self-supporting community. On the latter method the work of relief is left to general charity, to the private persons, or to the poor-law to whom the case is notified ; and the effort is made to help the family to self-support by a friendly visitor. This procedure is that adopted by the associated charities in Boston, Mass., and other similar societies in America. The method of associated help, combined with personal work, represents the usual practice of charity organization societies. Mutatis mutandis, the plan can be adopted on the simplest scale in parochial or other relief committees, subject to the safeguards of sufficient training an settled method. The inquiry should cover the following points : names and address, and ages of family, previous addresses past employment and wages, present income, rent and liabilities, membership of friendly or other society, and savings, Relations relief (if any) from any source. These points should be verified, and reference should be made to the clergy, the poor-law authorities and others, to ascertain if they know the applicant. The resu t


should be to show how the applicant has been living, and what are the sources of possible help, and also what is his character. The problem, however, is not whether the person is “ deserving” or “ undeserving,” but whether, granted the facts, the distress can be stayed and self-support attained. If the help can be given privately from within the circle of the family, so much the better. Often it may be best to advise, but not to interfere. In some cases but little help may be necessary ; in others again the friendly relation between applicant and friend may last for months and even years. Usually in charitable work the question of the kind of relief available—money, tickets, clothes, &c.—governs the decision how the case should be assisted. But this is quite wrong: the opposite is the true rule. The wants of the case, rightly understood, should govern the decision as to what charity should do and what it should provide. Cases are overwhelming in number, as at the out-patient and casualty departments of a hospital, where the admissions are made without inquiry, and subject practically to no restrictions ; but when there is inquiry, and each case is seriously considered and aided with a view to self-support, the numbers will seldom be overwhelming. On this plan appeal is made to the strength of the applicant, and requires an effort on his part. Indiscriminate relief, on the other hand, attracts the applicant by an appeal to his weakness, and it requires of him no effort. Hence, apart even from the differentiating effect of inquiry, one method makes applicants, the other limits their number, although on the latter plan much more strenuous endeavours be made to assist the lesser number of claimants. For the routine work of the office an extremely simple system of records with card index, &c., has been devised. In some cities, particularly in the United States of America, there is a central registration of cases, notified by individual charities, poorrelief authorities, and private persons. The system of charity organization or associated charity, it will be seen, allows of the utmost variety of treatment, according to the difficulties in each instance and the remedies available, and the utmost scope for personal work. (3) Training.—If charitable work is an art, those who undertake it must needs be trained both in practice and method and in judgment. It requires, too, that self-discipline which blends intelligence with emotion, and so endows emotion with strength and purpose. In times of distress a reserve of trained workers is of the utmost service. At all times they do more and produce, socially, better results ; but when there is general distress of any kind they do not lose their heads like new recruits, but prevent at least some of the mischief that comes of the panic which often takes possession of a community, when distress is apprehended, and leads to the wildest distributions of relief. Also trained workers make the most useful poor-law guardians, trustees of charities, secretaries of charitable societies, and district visitors. All clergy and ministers and all medical men who have to be engaged in the administration of medical relief should learn the art of charity. Poor-law guardians are usually elected on political or general grounds, and have no special knowledge of good methods of charity ; and trustees are seldom appointed on the score of their qualifications on this head. To provide the necessary education in charity there should be competent helpers and teachers at charity organization committees and elsewhere, and an alliance for this purpose should be formed between them and professors and teachers of moral science and economics and ‘ ‘ settlements. ” Those who study social problems in connexion with what a doctor would call “cases” or “practice see the* limits and the falsity of schemes that on paper seem logical enough. This puts a check on the influence of scheme-building and that literary sensationalism which makes capital out. of social conditions. (4) C'o-operaWon.—Organization in charity depends on extensive co-operation, and ultimately on the acceptance of common views. This comes but slowly. But with much tribulation the goal may be reached, if in case after case the effort is made to provide friendly help through charities and private persons, unless, as may well be, it should seem best not to interfere, but to leave the applicant to apply to the administrators of public relief. Experience of what is right and wrong in charity is thus gained on both sides. Many sources may have to be utilized for aid of different kinds even in a single case, and for the prevention of distress co-operation with members qi friendly societies and with co-operative and thrift agencies is indispensable. Where there is accord between charity and the poorlaw pauperism may be largely reduced. The poor-law in most countries has at its disposal certain in- The poor. stitutional relief and out-door allowances, but. it law. has no means of devising plans of help which may prevent application to the rates or “ take ” people “off the rates.” Thus a widow in the first days of widowhood applies and receives an allowance according