Relief Activities: Dole

In March 1870, returns of cases were asked for from the committees. They show the dificculties which the committees met with in endeavouring to start on the right lines. Between December 13th and March 8th the St.Geroge's, Hanober Square, committees received 1,906 applications:

During the first fortnight those who presented themselves were almoset exclusively tramps, mendicantes by profession, and characters known to the police. These were actuated as much by curiosity as anyother motive in making use of their tickets, and they expressed themselves in no measured terms of what they considered an inquisitional infringement of their rights for immediate relief, unchecked by any verification of their statements.

It is probably from these early days that the traditional unpopularity of the society dates.

Col. Lynedoch Gardiner on dole (500 cases of southern division of St.Marylebone):
Our intention was to cut off charity from the worthless and divert it to the deserving. As yet, though we may have partially succeeded in cutting it off from the worthless, we have at the same time suspended it from the deserving.

The committees had not yet succeeded in organising relief for the deserving cases:

As this question of giving direct relief involves a very important principle, I may say at once that having staeted rather in favour of it---I have thoroughly satisfied myself that, by adopting it, we should not only interfere in a very objectionable way with existing charities, but we should increase the very evil we are trying to abate, by inviting and stimulating pauperism... The part I have found most unpleasant of the duty I have had to perform has been the constant disappointment of applicants on hearing that after full investigation and visiting, nothing was to be done for them beyond writing their names in a book, or, as they have commonly expressed it, that they were 'made fools of'[SW 41-42].
This report would be very incomplete if it omitted, in conclusion, to notice the valuable services rendered to the Committee by Miss Octavia Hill. Visiting among the Roman Catholic applicants has been condunted by ladies and gentlemen of that communion belonging to our Committee, but the whole work of visiting and reporting upon the far more numerous class of Protestants of all denominations has for the last month been bery thoroughly performed by Miss Hill and her friends. Most cases in which a spirit of industry and independence and self-help shoued itself hace at once been assisted in some way. Many families hace been removed from lodging where they were in debt to houses unde Miss Hill's charge, where they are well looked up and encouraged to work for their living; and finally adopting the principle of achieving great results from small beginnings, Miss Hill has taken in hand one of the poorest courts (Walmer Place) in St.Mary's---sewing is offered to every woman or girl willing to do a day's work, and this needlework labour-test is now being carried on successfully and with great promise [SW 42].

Miss Hill's own view:

It would indeed be a terrible thing, in the opinion of some of its members, for a large and strong body like the Committee, composed of people who ought to hace studied the sbject in all its most important bearings, to endorse and extend the most corrupting practice of distributing doles.
If the gentlefolk in the neighbourhood would go down and turn over these sad pages---the saddest for their brevity---and just ask themselves, if they were fathers or brothers in the families of which they read, what they would suggest as the wisest course; whether, indeen, there was nothing for it but weekly doles---no daughters who could go to service, no plan by which effort and wisdom might raise the family to independence, I think their extended education and outlook might suggest some satisfactory plan in almost every case [SW 42-43].

Mr. Baldwin Leighton on Organisation:

I take [organisation] to mean not only an association of societies, but the education of societies by example and suggestion. If we cannot control them or oblige them to adopt our views, we can make suggestions to them and point out the way to be most useful. That result we have arrived at in St.Geroge's, for we heard the other day from our honorary secretary, who is in close correspondence with the clergy, that no amount of writing or talking or explanation would have shown them, nameky that success depends upon principle. First, we have strongly resolved against assisting Poor Law relief; and our second resolution is, only to give relief where we have hopes that by giving temporary relief we have the expectation of permanent benefit [SW 46].