Angela Georgina Burdett-Coutts.

Woman's mission; a series of congress papers on the philanthropic work of women, by eminent writers online

. (page 37 of 49)
Online LibraryAngela Georgina Burdett-CouttsWoman's mission; a series of congress papers on the philanthropic work of women, by eminent writers → online text (page 37 of 49)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

ficent and widespreading organization owes its origin. About the year
1855, the forlorn and unprotected condition of the girls and young women
who were flocking to London and other large cities, where employment
awaited them, forced itself on the attention of the lady who was then
known as the Hon. Mrs. Kinnaird, who opened, in Upper Charlotte
Street, Fitzroy Square, a Home in which young women above the rank
of domestic servants were boarded and lodged for a guinea a week. Some
two years later this Home altered its character. Rooms were thrown
open every evening except Saturday, for the use of young women engaged
In business during the day, who were invited to make use of a good
library, to join classes for French, German, singing, drawing, and to
listen to lectures on various subjects. Here we first see in actual
operation the Y.W.C.A. as we know it to-day. Mrs. Kinnaird's work
grew apace, and in 1871 th'ere were two homes and four institutes. It
was not, however, until 1876, when another organization was incorpo-
rated in Mrs. Kinnaird's, that the present title came into use. There are
now five great divisions in Great Britain and Ireland, and two foreign
divisions one for the colonies, and the other for the European conti-
nent and foreigners in England ; but efforts are being made to merge
these, with the American, Colonial, and- Continental Associations, into one
world-wide organization. Mrs. Kinnaird, who became Lady Kinnaird
in .1878, is the life president of the London division, which, with a
membership of between sixteen and seventeen thousand, has, in its
140 branches, twenty-one institutes and evening-rooms, and nineteen
homes and restaurants, where good lodgings can be had at from 2s. 6d.
to 4s. 6d. per week, with meals at very moderate rates. From time to
time, as need has arisen, the Association has given birth to a branch for
girls employed in restaurants, railway bars, and public-houses, to a
Factory Helpers' Union, a Travellers' Aid Society, an Employment
Agency, a Park Mission, and a Missionary Training-Home. Lady Car-
bery's comprehensive paper is full of interest to those who wish to
acquaint themselves with the history and working of this invaluable
Society. New developments are constantly opening out ; and, as the faith
which first prompted the work is as strong as ever, there can be no doubt
that the Y.W.C.A. is destined to go on increasing in magnitude and

TUTE, 2, St. George's Road, Buckingham Palace Road, London, S.W.
This Institute is open daily from ten to ten. A feature worth noting is
that, by paying a trifling sum weekly into a holiday fund, the girls become
entitled to a bonus of is. on every los. deposited, and are able to take
a holiday at small expense by going at a reduced railway fare to some
Y.W.C.A. seaside Home.

DEPARTMENT. By Miss A. Cough. This department has been organized
to promote communication between employers seeking those of good

388 Appendix.

character and Christian principles, and members or others needing
employment. It is open to governesses, matrons, mission workers, and
domestic servants. Satisfactory references are always required.

INSTITUTE. By Mrs. Richardson. This is an institution where respect-
able and shelterless young women are received. It contains 230 senior
and fifty junior members, and has its club-room, library, working agencies,
educational classes, and "at homes." The house accommodates seven-
teen, and there is rarely a bed unoccupied. During 1891, 160 girls stayed
in the Institute. A " traveller's bed " is provided for any one who wants
only a night's accommodation. An employment agency and a guild of
working associates render useful service. Girls between the ages of
twelve and seventeen belong to the Junior Branch.

at Bournemouth, Boscombe, Westbourne, and Springbourne. By Miss
Wingfieid Digby. Connected with the Barnet branch founded by Miss
Robartes for young shopwomen, originated by Mrs. Fenton, in 1887, and
since carried on, together with a Bible-class for young gentlewomen, by
Miss Wingfieid Digby.

PEACE COTTAGE, Heronsgate, Herts. A very brief report, stating that
here girls engaged in business all day in London can sleep in the quiet-
ness and freshness of the country. It is connected with the Y.W.C.A.

ING, SUSSEX. By Miss F. Smith-Heriz. A seaside Home, similar to
the one at Bournemouth. The terms of admission are moderate.

~B>jMrs.J. Herbert Tritton. The work of the Y.W.C.A. has already been
fully explained elsewhere. This division undertakes the care of young
women from all the countries, and speaking all the languages, of Europe,
who flock to England, knowing nothing of the dangers which will
surround them. What these dangers are may be seen from the letters of
mothers in distant lands, -imploring the Association to find daughters who
have not sought its aid. Many, however, now write before coming to
England, making inquiries or asking advice. A similar work is, of course,
needed for English girls going to any foreign country.

WESTBOURNE EVENING HOME, 70, Westbourne Grove, London, W.
In October, 1887, this Home was thrown open for the first time to the
hard-working shop-girls in and around Westbourne Grove. There are
162 members, who for a yearly subscription of 4^. have the use of a library,
writing-room, reading-room, and are entertained by lectures and concerts.
Valuable points about this Home are its proximity to several large
business houses, and the fact that it is open on Saturday afternoons,
Sundays, and Bank Holidays, when many of the members, having no
homes in London, would otherwise be thrown on their own resources
for companionship and occupation.

Appendix. 389


Mrs. Bishop. There is an Association of ladies in Birmingham, formed
for the purpose of visiting police-courts, to aid the young and unfortunate.
As a rule, the visitors do not deal with felony cases. This paper does not
state when the Association was formed, but it is believed that police-court
visiting by ladies is peculiar to Birmingham. Very often a girl, if dis-
charged on a first offence, is handed over to the care of the lady visitors.
Men especially connected with the temperance movement attend the
courts ; and the practice might more often be adopted elsewhere. This
effort to reach a class who are necessarily unbefriended in court, and who
could sometimes be preserved from a further downfall, deserves the fullest
consideration ; and it may be hoped that more may see their way to
good work in this direction, and in such others as prison and work-
house visiting, and poor-law work.

by Miss Caroline Neave, at that time engaged in prison visiting with
Mrs. Fry, the Home receives (i) girls who have been convicted and
imprisoned for a first offence ; (2) those discharged from service for dis-
honesty, but not prosecuted ; (3) girls unmanageable but not criminal.
They are trained for domestic service, their friends paying 4^. weekly.
Penitentiary and inebriate cases are excluded. During the seventy years
it has existed, 1945 have been admitted. Perhaps the strongest evidence
of the soundness of the principles on which this Society conducts its work
is the fact that it lives side by side with many others which have sprung
into existence since the foundress formed her beneficent plan, and that,
though seventy years have passed, it is still doing good, true work, giving
hope and much encouragement to those who need the helping hand and
the word in due season.

ST. MARY'S TRAINING-HOME, Netting Hill, London. By Miss Alice
Jameson. Ten years ago the Notting Dale Ladies' Association opened
this little Home to train for service girls who, from character or circum-
stance, were in moral danger. Of the first two hundred girls who passed
out only six are known to have taken to evil courses a fact which speaks
volumes for the thoroughness with which the Home does its work. After
a lapse of six years, seventy or eighty girls were still in communication
with the lady-superintendent.


* AMBERLEY CONVALESCENT HOME, Stroud, Gloucestershire. By
Mrs. Blackwell. This Home, in a small village on the Cotswold Hills,
was opened in 1872, and the bracing air is found to be a great restorative.
Five women are received every month free of expense ; the cost to the
Home being about i each. Local cases only are admitted during the

39O Appendix.

winter. The Home is specially appreciated by the patients for its home-
like, unconventional character, and the matron takes a personal interest
in her charges.

*THE CAMBRIAN CENTRAL OFFICE. This Office was started in
connection with the S.P.F.W., as a means by which Welsh workers might
dispose of their work. The secretary, Miss Tacher, has also provided
employment (needlework) at Llandudno for a number of women during
the winter months ; most of the articles made being sold at the London
central office.

This Society was formed in 1879, an d is working in twenty-seven
dioceses in England and Scotland. Its object is to help women, married
or single, to lead Christian lives ; being banded together, with practical
rules of conduct for mutual help and strength. Bible and secular classes,
mothers' meetings, lending libraries, penny banks, sick clubs, etc., are
often set on foot as helps to the members to live up to their rules of life,
and an important part of the work in towns consists of the establishment
of evening clubs, lodging-houses, etc., for women employed in ware-
houses and factories. The first branch was formed at Colchester, and
solved for the clergy the problem of how to reach and benefit factory
workers. The East London Branch has had a very great influence for
good, and the ladies living at the branch in one of the worst districts in
South London are gradually raising around them a higher standard of
conduct, based on Christian principles. The success of the work is proved
by the crowded congregation of working women and girls which assembles
in St. Paul's Cathedral on the occasion of the anniversary sermon.

* CLEVEDON CONVALESCENT HOME. This pleasant seaside Home
provides change and rest for the weary coming from any part of the
country. Eighteen women and children, and ten men and boys are
admitted. No nurses are required, and the Home is managed by a lady-

Home was opened in 1887, and receives convalescent patients, widows,
and members of the Y.W.C.A., requiring change and rest. In addition
to members and associates of the Y.W.C.A., the Home has received
missionary workers, governesses, widows, nurses, servants, and girls
engaged in business. Some have been enabled to remain in the Home
by means of help from the Special Fund.

Alexander. This Society was founded twenty years ago by Miss Alex-
ander, with a view to helping respectable poor women belonging to her
mothers' meeting. This is done by giving them needlework, to be done
in their own homes during the winter months. Miss Alexander receives
valuable assistance in effecting the sale of her work from the S.P.F.W.

*HOME FOR CONSUMPTIVE FEMALES, Gloucester Place, London.
This Home was originally started in the Marylebone Road, where

Appendix. 391

Mrs. H. M. J. Bird and the Hon. Olivia C. Kinnaird visited and assisted
a few poor consumptive women, who were housed in some two or three
rooms lent rent-free for the purpose. Many demands for admission
induced them to take a house in Gloucester Place, which was fitted as a
hospital for about twenty patients, under the care of a committee. Before
long the hospital was greatly enlarged. Its special feature is the per-
manence of the home it offers to patients. Small payments by patients
also figure among the receipts.

By Alice Marshman. The important and useful work carried on in
connection with this Home is evidenced by the average number of
invalids received yearly (two thousand). It was originally established at
Dover, in 1870. It consists of three wings one for reduced gentlewomen
and governesses ; one for needlewomen and young women in business ;
and one for working men's wives and children. Of the invalids annually
received, about ninety-five per cent, are restored to health, and the death-
rate does not exceed two in a thousand. There is a free fund for relieving
orphan and destitute cases, and in cases of real need the " Dorcas
Wardrobe " lends its friendly aid.

OF INDUSTRY. This Society was founded in 1856, as an industrial aid to
the poor of the district. This is done by affording a little home work to
mothers, and the work is conducted, as far as possible, on a self-supporting
basis. The Society is conducted by a committee of twelve ladies, and the
deserving poor are relieved without being pauperized.

the Dowager Lady Gifford. The first Institution of this kind was founded
by H.R.H. Princess Frederica, in 1881. It has accommodation for nine
poor married women who require change and rest after childbirth. They
are allowed to stay three weeks, free of all cost. Several similar institu-
tions have since been opened in England, and a large hospital on the
same plan has been started in Vienna. Annual subscriptions and dona-
tions furnish the necessary funds.

This excellent Home is a visible proof of the kindly forethought of one
who has a royal heart as well as a royal name ; a touching reminder of a
great sorrow which befell a young<princess. While still a happy mother,
rejoicing in a blooming and beautiful baby, surrounded by every comfort
and luxury, the Princess Frederica thought of the trying [time convales-
cence must be to mothers in poor homes, sufficiently recovered to feel the
inconvenience caused by their confinement, and worried by the wish to
resume the daily tasks to which as yet their strength is unequal. When
the little one died whose birth had awakened this tender solicitude for
the poor in the Princess's mind, her thoughts reverted to their necessities,
and in due time her philanthropic plan was carried into execution.

Lily Ewer Benn. This Convalescent Home was founded by Blanche,
Countess of Rosslyn, to the memory of the late Earl of Rosslyn. It was

392 Appendix.

opened by Lady Brooke, on May 24, 1892. During the first five months
there were eighty-five poor weary travellers from " slum-land." The
Countess of Rosslyn makes herself responsible for the rent, rates, taxes,
matron, servants, etc., means for the maintenance of the inmates being
obtained through the activity and interest and generosity of Miss Lily
Ewer Benn and other kind friends of the suffering poor.

I would like to add that no more touching paper has been sent to me
than this, given by one who knows well and has shared all the tender
feelings to which this Home owes its origin. It shows, in its simple story
of a widow's sorrow, the habits of a life, and acquaintance with the wants
of working women, and their feelings. It is such evidences of thought
and care for others, the desire to soften toil and refresh weary spirits by
sympathy, as are revealed in this record, which make it so impossible to
give any adequate idea how largely philanthropy enters into daily life.
The report tells of many another who strives to perpetuate the loving-
kindness of those they mourn by creating Homes such as this.

By Miss Fitzroy, Self-help is the principle on which this Home is based.
The women cook their food, clean their rooms, and still find plenty of
time for thorough enjoyment of a quiet country life. Everything is simple
and inexpensive.

This Home was founded, in 1878, by ladies who had become acquainted
with the sad plight of young women, dressmakers, shop-assistants, and
teachers, who, when dismissed from hospitals as incurable, had no other
refuge. Accommodation is now afforded to twenty-two such persons in
the Home, which has so long carried on its beneficial work of brightening
the lives of its suffering inmates. Payment is sometimes expected from

Street, London. By Miss Gertrude J. King. This Society commenced
its work, under the presidency of the late Earl of Shaftesbury, in 1859,
and was incorporated twenty years later. The Society is strictly unsec-
tarian and non-political. It was the first Society established for the
purpose of providing technical training for women. It watches over the
rights of adult women to work for a livelihood unhampered by special
legislative restrictions which do not apply to men. It undertakes a
considerable variety of clerical work. The office is a centre for collecting
and communicating information as to women's work of all kinds, and
a free register is kept of capable women of guaranteed respectability
anxious for employment. A noticeable feature in the work and record
of this Society is the large excess of income over expenditure. During
the last sixteen years the average income has been ^360 13^. jd. ; the
average working expenditure, .238 ijs. 6d. In the same period 1065
persons have been placed as learners, 1087 in permanent engagements,
and several thousands in temporary employment.

Holmes White. This Society was started twenty-six years since, under

Appendix. 393

the name of the National Central Office of Institutions for Women and
Girls of Good Character, by Mrs. Goode, wife of the then Dean of Ripon.
Its object is to promote female welfare by the united working of insti-
tutions for women and girls of good character. In 1872 the title was
altered, and men as well as women were admitted to its management.
The Society furnishes information to subscribers and the public as to
the working, terms of admission, existing vacancies, etc., in the institu-
tions associated with it ; acquaints the institutions of applicants desiring
admission, and assists them by finding situations for their inmates on
leaving ; keeps a repository at the central office, where sample work
done at the institutions may be exhibited ; receives subscriptions for the
homes, or for any individual case in either of them ; keeps a register
of persons requiring servants, and of servants recommended by members ;
provides for the safe transit of girls going to or from affiliated homes
through London, and encourages faithful service by reward. I have
indicated by an asterisk (*) the Societies or Institutions mentioned in
this Appendix which are connected with the Society for Promoting
Female Welfare.

Macpherson. For the past twenty-five years Miss Macpherson has been
in the habit of inviting a number of aged widows to a weekly sewing
meeting, giving them sixpence and a free tea for their afternoon's work.
Death has gradually reduced the number from three hundred in the
earlier years to about a hundred now. Lady nurses visit those who are
too feeble to come to the class, and beef-tea, gruel, and milk-puddings
are dispensed from an invalid kitchen. This work was begun at a period
when cholera and fever had almost decimated East London, and when
the streets were swarming with neglected children. Efforts of this kind
usually die out with the exceptional circumstances which call them forth ;
but this one, fortunately, has not only survived, but has prospered beyond
all expectation. The abundant success of Miss Macpherson's labours
should encourage others to " go and do likewise."


London, E. By Miss Mary H, Steer. Believing that " without merging
our own lives into theirs, and making a serious and practical study of
the world in which these poor degraded ones live, we shall never make
the headway we desire in saving what are called the lapsed classes,"
the author of this paper went, thirteen years ago, to live in Ratcliff
Highway, then one of the worst parts of East London. At first she
worked alone, going out into the highways and by-ways, and persuading
the girls and women she wished to reform to visit her in her own house,
and regard her as their friend. By degrees others joined her in the
work. Then she took a little house in Princes Square, just out of the
Highway, and from that the present large mission building, which cost
.5480 to build and furnish, has grown. The work is now divided into
three distinct branches : (i) the night shelter, or the work among
destitute women ; (2) rescue work among fallen women, carried on in

394 Appendix.

the refuge ; (3) preventive work among little girls who have been born
among the very worst surroundings ; these subjects being fully treated
in the Congress paper on Rescue Work, which Miss Steer has written
for this volume. The spirit of the writer illumines her simple yet moving
narrative, as it shines through all her work. These "mothering ladies"
never reject from their preventive homes any poor wandering child who
needs a bed for the night. Some came one evening when Miss Steer
was there. Said one, " It is hard to be in the streets without a bed ; so
we came." They left in the morning, saying they were going to places.
This might or might not have been true, she says ; but at least they did
not that night "lie down in sin."

Mrs. Chater. With the object of assisting women desiring to cure them-
selves of intemperate habits, this Home was opened in 1886. It is in
connection with the British Women's Temperance Association, and is
managed by a ladies' committee, of which Lady Elizabeth Biddulph is
president. Twelve ladies and twelve working women are received ; the
former pay from i$s. to 31$. 6d., and the latter (who do the household
work) from $s. to 12s. 6d. per week. While many of the patients have
relapsed, many others have so far done well.

THE ELIZABETH FRY REFUGE, Hackney, London. By Miss T.
Augusta Fry. This Institution was founded in 1849, as a memorial to
the late Mrs. Elizabeth Fry, whose work in prisons is so well known. Its
object is to help women who have been imprisoned for a first offence to
regain their characters. There is accommodation for thirty women, and
3366 have been received since the foundation of the Institution. The
history of a woman is told to any lady wishing to engage her, but when
she has once, by a year's service, won a good character, the past is not
referred to again. The religious instruction given is unsectarian ; an
outfit is supplied to the women on leaving, and a correspondence kept up
with them as far as possible.

MRS. MEREDITH'S INSTITUTIONS. It is impossible to give, in a short
compass, any satisfactory summary of this very full and interesting report
of the numerous Institutions conducted by Mrs. Meredith, who has
worked so long as the unpaid servant of the English public. " The
call " to become a prison visitor came to her in a most unexpected manner,
and she went to the work, she confesses, " with reluctance and regret."
" In the course of my visiting," she says, " I had personal dealing with
every individual in Brixton prison, then the chief convict prison for
women with some as they sat at work, with others in the infirmary in bed,
occasionally in the cells with those condemned to solitary confinement.
Sometimes where the epileptic and insane were isolated, and in the dark
with the incorrigible, I had perfect freedom to converse with and to inform
myself as to the state of their minds. I availed myself of this privilege,
and used it so continually that I soon knew all the prisoners and much
about their histories." One of the chief features of Mrs. Meredith's work
is that of detaching prisoners from their "friends." She found and

Online LibraryAngela Georgina Burdett-CouttsWoman's mission; a series of congress papers on the philanthropic work of women, by eminent writers → online text (page 37 of 49)