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CHARITY AND CHARITIES

association of friends and workers. (2) Inquiry, Aid and Registration.—The object of inquiry is to ascertain the actual causes of 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 to 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, or to private persons, or to the poor-law; 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 and elsewhere. It is akin also to that adopted in the municipal system of relief in Elberfeld—which has become with many variations in detail the standard method of poor relief in Germany. 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 and 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 result 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, poor-relief 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 distribution 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 the “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) Co-operation.—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 of friendly societies and with co-operative and thrift agencies is indispensable.

Where there is accord between charity and the poor-law pauperism may be largely reduced. The poor-law in most countries has at its disposal certain institutional relief and out-door allowances, but it has no means of devising plans of The poor law.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 to the number of her children. Helped at the outset by charity on some definite plan, she may become self-supporting; and if her family be large one or two of her children may be placed in schools by the guardians, while she maintains the remaining children and herself. As far as possible there should be a division of labour between the poor-law and charity. Except where some plan such as that just mentioned is adopted, one or the other should take whole charge of the case relieved. There should be no supplementation of poor-law relief by charity. This will weaken the strength and dissipate the resources of charity without adding to the efficiency of the poor-law. Unless the guardians adopt a restrictive out-door relief policy, there is no scope for any useful division of labour between them and charity; for the many cases which, taken in time, charity might save from pauperism, they will draw into chronic dependence by their allowances a very much larger number. But if there is a restrictive out-door policy, so far as relief is necessary, charity may undertake to meet on its own lines distress which the poor-law would otherwise have met by allowances, and, subject to the assistance of urgent cases, poor-law relief may thus by degrees become institutional only. Then, in the main, natural social forces would come into play, and dependence on any form of annona civica would cease.

Open-handed hospitality always creates mendicants. This is what the hospitals offer in the out-patient and casualty departments, and they have created a class of hospital mendicants. The cases are quickly dealt with, without inquiry and without regardHospitals. to home conditions. The medical man in the hospital does not co-operate with any fellow-workers outside the hospital. Where his physic or advice ceases to operate his usefulness ceases. He regards no conditions of morality. In a large number of cases drink or vice is the cause of application, and the cure of the patient is dependent on moral conditions; but he returns home, drinks and may beat his wife, and then on another visit to the hospital he will again be physicked and so on. The man is not even referred to the poor-law infirmary for relief. Nor are conditions of home sanitation regarded. One cause of constant sickness is thus entirely overlooked, while drugs, otherwise unnecessary, are constantly given at the hospital. The hospitals are thus large isolated relief stations which are creating a new kind of pauperism. So far as the patients can pay—and many can do so—the general practitioners, to whom they would otherwise go, are deprived of their gains. Still worse is it when the hospital itself charges a fee in its out-patient department. The relief is then claimed even more absolutely as a right, and the general