Charles Richmond Henderson.

Modern methods of charity; an account of the systems of relief, public and private, in the principal countries having modern methods online

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cause, the Roman Catholic Qiurch in England has now extensive
charities covering almost every aspect of philanthropic work.

In the field of general relief work, the most extensive and im-
portant organization is the St. Vincent de Paul Society. This so-
ciety adopts wholly modern methods in its relief work. It investi-
gates carefully all cases applying for aid, it keeps a record of these
cases, it cooperates with other relief societies, and it sends visitors to
the homes of the poor. The society has branches in all large cities,
and in the larger cities many local branches. In London alone there
are, for example, twenty-nine of these local branches, or "commit-
tees," of the St. Vincent de Paul Society.

There are several other societies for the relief of the poor.
Among these are the societies for the relief of the aged poor, like
the Benevolent Society for the Relief of the Aged and Infirm Poor,

^The facts in this section are taken mainly from the Catholic Directorj', Eccle-
siastical Register and Almanac, 1894.


the oldest Catholic charity in England. This society grants pensions
to poor Catholic persons above the age of sixty. The Little Sisters
of the Poor have as their special object the care of the aged poor
in institutions. They are by far the most important organization
engaged in this special branch of philanthropic work. They have
twenty-eight houses in England, many of them being large institu-
tions. In these homes for the aged, persons of both sexes and all
denominations are received and cared for. An institution which car-
ries on a similar work is Nazareth House in London, which has twelve
branches in the provinces.

In the field of the care of the sick poor the Catholic Church has
in England eighteen hospitals and convalescent homes conducted on
a charitable basis. It maintains also eleven societies for nursing the
sick poor in their own homes, and a number of homes for incurables.
The various sisterhoods devote themselves largely to the nursing of
the sick and the education of poor children.

The care of dependent and neglected children has always occupied
a prominent place in the charitable work of the Catholic Church,
The Church maintains in England eleven Poor Law schools for boys
and twenty-five for girls which have been certified by the Local Gov-
ernment Board as fit to receive dependent children committed to them
by the boards of guardians. It has also five certified reformatories
for boys and two for girls for the reception of delinquent children
between twelve and sixteen guilty of serious offenses. For de-
linquent children under fourteen, guilty of minor offenses the
Church maintains twenty-seven certified industrial schools, fifteen
for boys and twelve for girls. In England dependent, neglected, and
delinquent children of Catholic parentage must by law be committed
to these certified Catholic schools. In addition to such schools, the
Catholic Church in England has about forty other schools, orphan-
ages, or homes, for boys or girls.

The Catholic Church in England has numerous other charities,
such as homes for fallen women, institutions for the blind and the
deaf, etc. ; but the above gives a fair outline of the range of its chari-
table activities.

(3) The Salvation Army. — Among the newer religious denomi-
nations in England, none have attempted more extensive philan-
thropic work than the Salvation Army. This sect was founded in
1865 by the Rev. William Booth, now known the world over as


General Booth. It was first called the "East London Mission," then
the "Christian Mission," and finally in 1878 took the name of Sal-
vation Army. In 1890 General Booth published his book, "In Dark-
est England and the Way Out," in which, after picturing the condi-
tion of the poorer classes of London, he proposed his plan of remov-
ing the more wretched of them to the country and rendering them
self-supporting through agriculture. He estimated that he could
make this plan a success if i 1,000,000 were donated. The money
was soon forthcoming, and this formed the nucleus for the now ex-
tensive charities of the Army.

According to the report of the English division of the Salva-
tion Army for the year 1900, the Army had in England twelve farm
colonies, comprising 25,562 acres, with 650 colonists. These colonies
were connected with similar farm colonies in English countries across
the sea for the purpose of assisting emigration. They were also
indirectly connected with sixty workshops in the cities for the tem-
porary employment of the unemployed. In these, in 1900, 48,512
men and women were given temporary employment. Besides, the
Army maintained thirty-six labor bureaus through which 6,367 indi-
viduals were found situations.

In addition to this strictly industrial work, the Army has many
other charities. It has 188 shelters and food depots providing
sleeping accommodations for 14,041 homeless men and women. In
these, in 1900, over 6,137,000 meals were given away or served at
nominal prices. Again, the Army has 132 slum posts, and maintains
ninety- four rescue homes for fallen women. In 1900 these dealt with
5,158 girls, of whom 3,449 were reported as satisfactory cases.
The children's homes and day nurseries supported by the Army num-
ber seventeen, and in 1900 these gave temporary shelter to 23,425
children. It has eleven homes for ex-convicts through which 1,626
discharged prisoners passed in 1900 with satisfactory results in 1,393
cases. Finally, there are a number of other social institutions of a
miscellaneous character maintained by the Army.

In 1900 these 609 institutions were cared for by 2,294 officers and
had an income from all sources of over £r, 000,000 annually. The
report further states that the rate of growth of the social and phil-
anthropic institutions of the Army is extremely rapid.

It is to be regretted that these extensive charities of the Salvation
Army are not always carried on in accordance with modern methods.


While they are accompHshing much good, it is claimed by some that
by giving rehef too indiscriminately they are increasing some de-
pendent classes, especially tramps and vagrants.^ Of course, the
sanguine expectations of General Booth, with regard to his plan of
uplifting the submerged classes through returning them to agricul-
tural life, have not been realized.

(4) Other Protestant Churches. — Of late years other Protestant
denominations in England, as elsewhere, have been increasingly turn-
ing their attention to philanthropy as an appropriate field of religious
activity. The writer has been unable to obtain the statistics of the
philanthropic work of the various non-conformist Protestant de-
nominations in England. But the philanthropic work of these bodies
is now beginning to be proportionate to their wealth and member-
ship. The various Methodist churches, in particular, have led in
this movement to give wider scope to the philanthropic activities
of the Protestant churches ; but other non-conformist churches have
not kept far behind them. The philanthropic work of the Quakers,
or Friends, deserves special mention also ; for this little denomination
has emphasized from the beginning the philanthropic aspects of

(5) Jewish Charities. — It is perhaps hardly proper to classify
Jewish charities among ecclesiastical charities, as they belong to a
race as well as to a religious denomination. It is appropriate here,
however, merely to note that no other religious denomination in Eng-
land has so well organized a system of charities as the Jews. Their
charities cover almost every object of philanthropic endeavor, and
are usually administered according to the most modern methods by
trained, intelligent officials. Unfortunately the writer has been un-
able to obtain any statistics as to the amount of Jewish benevolences
in England. But the extent and organization of Jewish charities
would seem to indicate that they are proportionately greater than in
many other denominations.

The Work of Benevolent and Fraternal Organizations. — Non-
sectarian charities of every sort are abundant in England. Many

^ The shelters of the Salvation Army especially have been sharply criticised.
It is said with good reason that these shelters attract vagrants ; for they receive
all comers without investigation and without any labor test. It has also been
shown that they are centers of contagion for various diseases. They render
nugatory much of the Poor Law legislation aimed at the vagrant class.


of the charities of the churches above mentioned are non-sectarian
so far as their spirit and aim are concerned ; but their more or less
close connection with some reHgious denomination makes it nec-
essary to classify them as ecclesiastical. Secular or non-sectarian
charitable societies or institutions — that is, those having no connec-
tion with any religious denomination — exist in England for the
care of almost every class of dependents. There are societies for the
education and relief of the blind and the deaf, for the care and
nursing of the sick in their homes, for the support of hospitals of all'
sorts, for the care of the aged and the incurable, for the protection
and care of children, for the rescue of fallen women, and for the giv-
ing of various forms of private relief. In brief, non-sectarian be-
nevolent organizations duplicate, on the one hand, the work of eccle-
siastical charity, and on the other, to some extent at least, the work
of the public relief system. This might cause some confusion, were
there not strong tendencies toward cooperation at work.

The scope of this article will not permit any attempt at descrip-
tion of this vast network of private secular charities. An illustra-
tion or two will suffice to indicate their character. An example of
such a charity founded by private initiative is the "National Incor-
porated Waifs' Association," or "Dr. Barnardo's Homes," as it is
popularly called. This organization exists for the rescue and care
of neglected and dependent children. It has connected with it some
forty different institutions in England which care for over 3,000
children, besides three emigration depots in Canada. Its chief
method of child-saving is through placing out dependent children in
homes, especially in Canada, and since its founding by Dr. T. J.
Barnardo, about thirty-five years ago, it has thus placed out over
10,000 children. A good illustration of a non-sectarian charity due
to the cooperation of different religious denominations and benevo-
lent societies is the "Hospital Saturday and Sunday Funds." These
funds are raised by various churches, clubs, societies, and business
corporations, and distributed among the various hospitals in
proportion to the amount of charitable work they do. The amounts
contributed to the hospitals of London in 1901 by these two funds
and by King Edward's Fund, a similar charity, aggregated

Another class of charities of a purely secular character, and un-
endowed, are the various benevolent societies and institutions con-


nectea with the various professions and occupations. These have
been growing of recent years in number and wealth, until now they
exist for almost every important calling. Their purpose is to furnish
charitable relief for the unfortunate members of the profession or oc-
cupation. These societies are of two classes, those that distribute their
benefits on a purely charitable basis within the calling, and those that
distribute benefits only to those who have joined the society and paid
a certain sum for a stipulated term of years.

Closely related to these latter are the so-called "Friendly Socie-
ties."^ These are mutual benefit societies which pay to their mem-
bers certain sums weekly in case of sickness, and at death a lump
sum to cover burial expenses, and after death perhaps certain allow-
ances to widows and orphans. The work of these societies, inas-
much as they are mutual insurance societies against destitution
through sickness, death, or other misfortune, ought perhaps to be
considered strictly under the head of preventive philanthropy; but
because they are practically vast dispensers of relief to their members,
they may be conveniently noticed here in connection with other
benevolent organizations.

The importance of these Friendly Societies in the life of the Eng-
lish working classes is beyond measure. Not only do they encour-
age to the greatest degree habits of thrift, industry, manly indepen-
dence, and sobriety, but their probable future development, some
think, seems to preclude the necessity of any such scheme as state
old-age pensions to the laboring classes. In 1902 the number of
Friendly Societies in Great Britain was 29,985, counting each local
organization as a society. These societies had invested funds
amounting to £37,917,702, and a total membership of over 11,424,000.
As regards industrial extent the societies are of two classes, the trade
societies, or trades unions, whose membership is strictly confined to
one industry; and the general friendly societies which take in mem-
bers without regard to occupation. As regards territorial extent,
the societies are also of two classes. Many are purely local societies
which have no branches ; others are societies of national extent with
numerous branches. Among the friendly societies of national extent,

^ For full information as to the charitable work of the English Friendly Socie-
ties, see Dr. J. M. Baernreither's classical work on English Associations of Work-
ing Men.


not confined to any trade or industry, the largest and most important
are the Oddfellows and the Foresters.

Parliament has recognized the importance of the work of the
friendly societies, and has established a friendly societies' registry,
in which societies that conform to certain conditions of the law may
be registered. These registered societies must have their accounts
audited annually by a government auditor, and are otherwise subject
to legal control. But in return for this they have certain privileges
which unregistered societies have not.

Prisoners' Aid Societies.^ — A form of philanthropy peculiarly well
developed in England is that expressed by Prisoners' Aid Societies.
This might also be classed as a phase of preventive philanthropy, but
it is restorative in character, and may be conveniently discussed under
a separate heading.

There are sixty-one prisons in England, and all have associated
with them a voluntary society to aid discharged prisoners in making
a fresh start in life. That is, there are more than sixty such societies
in England and Wales. Since 1896 these societies have been made
subject to governmental inspection and supervision, and those which
attain a certain standard of efficiency receive a small grant from the
Government to help them carry on their work. In 1900 the Pris-
oners' Aid Societies of England assisted 28,980 discharged prisoners.
The best of these societies not only find employment for dis-
charged prisoners, and assist them by grants of money or clothing,
but also have connected with them industrial homes or refuges for
ex-convicts where they can receive training which will fit them to
reenter free social life. In other words, they aim at continuing the
work of the reformation of the prisoner after his discharge. Thus
the prisoner who wishes to reform is surrounded at once, upon his
discharge, with helpful influences which not only find him employ-
ment and restore him to family and friends, but equip him for work
as well.

Different societies cooperate with each other, acting mutually as
agents, taking charge of cases coming from districts other than their
own. Again, to secure continued oversight over a discharged pris-
oner who has been procured employment in a distant place, corre-
sponding members are appointed who look after such discharged
prisoners. Thus this network of prisoners' aid societies in constant

^ See Annual Charities Register and Digest, 1902, pp. 425-431.


communication with one another makes it possible to exercise a kindly
surveillance over a prisoner who wishes to reform, long after his
discharge, and to prevent his being led again into crime.

The result of the work of these societies to England must be not
only a great diminution of the class of habitual criminals, but also
to some extent a diminution of the pauperism and vagrancy which
so frequently follow crime.

E. Charity Organization Societies.^ — The crown of the
English system of public and private philanthropy is the Charity
Organization Society. Although strictly a voluntary organization,
it coordinates public and private relief agencies, and so is the key-
stone, in every locality in which it exists, which binds together the
two systems of public relief and private charity. That England gave
birth to the charity organization movement testifies not only to the
superior humanitarian spirit of the English people, but also to their
practical genius for harmonizing private initiative with public activity
in philanthropic work.

The first charity organization society was organized in London
in 1869. The preceding years had been years of industrial depres-
sion ; and, though relief was abundant, as Mr. Loch says, "Misery
and destitution seemed to increase in spite of it, seemed almost to
feed and multiply upon it." It was evident that closer cooperation
was needed between the Poor Law authorities and the dispensers of
private charity. Immense emergency funds and prodigal private
giving were nullifying the efifect of the Poor Laws. Organization
and coordination of public and private sources of relief became indis-
pensable to prevent the spread of pauperism and the wholesale de-
moralization of the poorer classes. Accordingly, Mr. Goschen, then
President of the Poor Law Board, the Bishop of London, the Earl
of Shaftesbury, Edward Denison, and others, took the lead in organ-
izing a voluntary society which should bring about effective coopera-
tion between private charities and Poor Law officials, and amongst
private charities themselves ; and which should secure due investiga-
tion and fitting action in all cases, and repress mendicity. This was
called the London Society for Organizing Charitable Relief and Re-
pressing Mendicity, a title which was soon popularly abbreviated into
"Charity Organization Society."

^ See Loch's Charity Organization ; also R. A. Woods' English Social Move-



This society was successful from the first in greatly reducing
pauperism in London. By its methods and plan of organization it
has made itself a model for similar organizations throughout the
English-speaking world. In Great Britain there are now about one
hundred similar societies, in the colonies about twenty, while in the
United States there are over 150 societies. Such societies now exist
in practically all of the important cities of the English-speaking world.

As we have seeen from this brief sketch of the history of the
movement, charity organization societies are not primarily relief-
giving organizations. Rather they exist to correlate and systematize
the activities of relief-giving agencies already in existence. If a
charity organization society gives relief largely, it runs the danger
of coming into competition with other relief societies, and so destroy-
ing the possibility of friendly cooperation. As Mr. Loch says, "The
society does not do the work of charity for the charitable ; it is itself
but a combination of charitable persons, each of whom, with the ad-
vantages of cooperation and a definite plan of work, ought to be the
better able to fulfill his individual duties. It is not the desire of the
society to supersede local charitable agencies, but to be representative
of all such within their area — to afford means of mutual assistance
and a place of meeting common to all who are engaged in charitable

Again, another reason why charity organization societies should
not give relief largely is that they are in danger of losing sight of
the higher aims of the society in relief-giving. The society aims at
the cure of poverty by the rational coordination of the charitable
efforts of individuals, private associations, and public authorities ; by
securing intelligent action in each case based upon a careful investi-
gation of the facts ; and by the rehabilitation of the individual
through encouragement in habits of independence, thrift, and

In general, it may be said that English societies adhere to these
principles, and give no relief except in cases in which relief can not
be obtained from cooperating agencies, and in emergencies pending
investigation. But some societies have departed widely from this
rule, and have given large amounts of relief, to their detriment, it
has generally been found, as coordinating agencies.

Some further explanation of the principles upon which charity
organization societies work may be helpful. No case is recom-


mended for relief until there has been thorough investigation by
some officer of the society, usually by a paid agent, though some-
times by a volunteer. This investigation, if properly conducted, ac-
complishes three things: (i) it reveals the causes of distress; (2)
it shows in what way help can best be given ; (3) it detects imposture,
if there is any, and so protects the giver. The facts ascertained
through investigation are carefully recorded and filed in a registry
of cases in the central office. This registry of cases is an efficient
means of furthering cooperation between dififerent charitable agencies,
as from it fairly full information can be obtained regarding a case
applying for relief. Beyond the work of investigation and registra-
tion is the task of restoring the dependent person if possible to self-
support. This is mainly accomplished by English societies through
the "almoner," the person who administers the relief, who makes
relief conditional upon the performance of certain acts which tend
toward self-support. "Friendly visiting" is not attempted by Eng-
lish societies in the same way or on the same scale as is attempted by
American societies. So far as it is attempted at all it is done by the
"almoner," or by "District Visitors" who work under the supervision
of some church, without any direct connection with the charity
organization society.

This brief review of the principles which govern the working
of charity organization societies shows that they are a product of
the combination of the humanitarian with the scientific spirit. They
stand, on the one hand, for the perception of the superiority of intel-
ligent and united effort ; on the other, for the perception that charity
has a higher duty to the unfortunate than the giving of mere material
relief ; that it should aim at the permanent welfare of the poor rather
than the temparary alleviation of misery. The charity organization
movement is, therefore, preeminently constructive, not negative and
repressive, as it is so often represented to be; and, on the whole,
it must be judged to be one of the highest expressions of intelligent
philanthropy which the world has yet seen.

The plan of organization of English charity organization societies
needs a word of explanation. The London society may be taken as
typical, the plan being simplified for smaller communities. The
London society consists of a Central Council or Committee with forty
District Committees. The central council has general oversight of
the work of the society, especially of the district committees. It en-


deavors to bring into systematic cooperation all charitable institutions
and agencies, both public and private. It seeks to improve the ad-
ministration of charity in every way, and to diffuse knowledge con-
cerning the proper methods of relief. The council itself does not
receive direct applications for aid, but these must be made through
the district committees. The council is composed, aside from its
chairman, vice-chairmen, and treasurers, ( i ) of elected representa-
tives from each district committee, together with the chairman and
honorary secretaries of the committee; (2) of additional members
from the society at large, not exceeding in number one-fourth of the
representatives of the district committees; (3) of representatives

Online LibraryCharles Richmond HendersonModern methods of charity; an account of the systems of relief, public and private, in the principal countries having modern methods → online text (page 24 of 73)