Imatges de pÓgina
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In his article entitled 'Settlements or Unsettlements ?' in the last number of this Review, Mr. Free describes a state of things so far removed from anything that I have ever known or imagined that it is hard for me to believe when reading it that I am moving in a world of realities. It would be tedious to my readers were I to answer the many statements in his long article individually; it seems more useful to try to describe as simply as I can what, so far as I know, is the aim and object of Women's Settlements, and especially of those Settlements which are definitely Anglican.

The origin of Settlements was very simple. A new sense of brotherhood, an awakened consciousness of our responsibility for the wellbeing of the community, some fuller knowledge of the conditions under which masses of the people live, made us keenly aware of the great gulf which separates east and west, of the almost immeasurable want of understanding between different sections of the community. То

many it seemed that one way of drawing closer together would be for some of those who possessed means and leisure to go and live amongst the great working-class population of the East-end of London, so that they might learn to know them as neighbours, and as neighbours might help them to make their lives fuller and richer. Perhaps the whole movement owes its first inspiration to Edward Denison. But many others were eager to follow where he had pointed the way. Settlements of all kinds-undenominational, Church of England, Nonconformist, as well as school and university missions have been started by men and women during the last thirty years, at first in the east of London, afterwards in the south, and the north, and now slowly in those newly settled great areas of population in the far west, whose existence and whose needs are hardly known to the great mass of the wealthier inhabitants of London. People rush down the Fulham Road in their motors to polo matches at Hurlingham, or to Hammersmith and the higher reaches of the river to see the boatrace, or to Kew to enjoy the beautiful gardens. They remark upon how the houses have spread, and notice that all the market gardens have disappeared. But few stop to think of the people who are living in those countless rows of little houses, many of them still too new to

be as yet blackened by the smoke of London, but yet no more fit to accommodate several families in one house than the old tenements in the East-end. Here too a great population is living as separate as the east or the south from the wealthier inhabitants of London, if not quite as remote so far as distance is concerned. Here too it would seem that there is opening for the work of a Settlement.

Some, no doubt, have felt disappointed with the result of the movement that led to the foundation of Settlements. All that was hoped for has not been realised. The gulf between rich and poor seems still so great that we do not feel as if it could ever have been greater. The first enthusiasm is over and we hear of difficulty sometimes in keeping up the supply of residents in the various Settlements. But even if all hopes have not been realised, it is impossible not to feel how much we have gained by this movement, how much real interest has been awakened, how much knowledge has been acquired, how many workers have been trained. Perhaps our hopes are humbler now, but, on the other hand, we have come to see more clearly what Settlements can be expected to do; we see something of the mistakes to be avoided, of the lines of work that can best be pursued.

One obvious reason for the existence of Settlements is that it is diffieult in an exclusively working-class district to find sufficient persons of leisure and education to do the social and religious work that is needed. For workers to come from a distance means a great additional expenditure of time and energy; much more can be done by those resident on the spot. Settlements may be either institutions which aim at doing a great deal of work within their own building, having their own clubs and classes, being themselves a centre for philanthropic, social, and religious work; or they may be merely houses in which a number of workers live together so as to be within convenient reach of the district in which they hope to work, as well as to have the advantage of association and intercourse with those who share their interests and duties. If the Settlement be of the former class and belong to the Church of England, it is, of course, absolutely necessary that it should work in entire sympathy and harmony with the vicar of the parish in which it is situated. If it belong to the latter class, and is a home for workers rather than an institution where work of all kinds is carried on, it is naturally much to be desired that, like all other households within the range of a given parish, it should be on friendly terms with the vicar. But it is by no means always easy to find a house suitable for the

of Settlement within the desired district, and it may be necessary therefore to settle within the borders of a parish where the vicar has no wish for any help from the residents in the Settlement, and is not even in sympathy with their aims. This is undoubtedly unfortunate for both sides, but with a little mutual forbearance it need not be



disastrous. The most extravagant defender of the parson's freehold cannot wish to make it extend to the right to decide who shall live within his parish. But he is justified in claiming to control the Church-work done in his parish, and the residents in a Church Settlement must be very careful to undertake no work in any parish where they are not wanted. If the vicar of the parish where their house happens to be does not regard the Settlement with favour, they will lose the great advantage of his sympathy and encouragement; he will lose the possible help of capable and energetic workers; but so long as a suitable district has been chosen, and the other clergy in the neighbourhood have expressed their desire for the help of a Settlement, the residents will not need in any part of London to go far either for work or friendly sympathy. They will always need to take special care not in any way to interfere in the work of any parish where they are not wanted. No Church Settlement that I have ever heard of has shown any desire to establish what Mr. Free calls ‘ rival institutions in parishes already well-equipped for social and religious work.' In London, where in every department of social and religious work there is always a cry for more helpers, it would be madness to go and seek to do work in a parish already well equipped—one fails to see what possible inducement there could be for such madness.

It is, of course, impossible to expect that all the residents in a Settlement will always be efficient workers. Nowhere, alas, is it possible to secure this, and voluntary work is especially apt to suffer from irregularity and an insufficient sense of responsibility. But here residence in a Settlement or connexion with a Settlement is a real help to the worker. The Settlement sets a standard. Those who are living in it are all more or less concerned in the same work. The conflicting claims of home and society do not confront the worker at every step. She is there to work; she is inspired by the example and helped by the experience of others. She may be able to come only for a few weeks at a time, but if the work undertaken by the Settlement has been well organised in conjunction with the authorities of the parishes in which it is carried on, she will at once be given her particular task, and shown how to make the short time she can give of the greatest use possible.

It is the part of the head of the Settlement to consult with the clergy as to the kind of help they want, and to organise the work that can be done by the Settlement in accordance with the number and capacities of the residents; but she will never claim for the Settlement nor for its workers, as Mr. Free asserts, 'independence of the parish priest,' nor will she demand that the residents should show ' exclusive allegiance' to her. The rule of the head of a Settlement is far from being autocratic. Her authority only goes so far as is necessary for the order and comfort of the house, otherwise it will be determined by the extent of her experience and the quality of her superior knowledge, or by her more intimate acquaintance with the people amongst whom she lives. Her success will entirely depend upon her power of sympathetic understanding whether of the people around, or of her fellow-workers, or of the clergy for whom she works. It will be by no means always easy for her to get good work out of those who come to live in the Settlement. We know that many very mixed motives, many very temporary motives, lead people to take up what they call ' work amongst the poor,' whether in Settlements or directly under the clergy. It is easy, though it might not be either kind or fair, to draw a very unflattering picture of the ordinary parochial worker, as well as of many of the possible residents in a Settlement. But it is far from true to speak of the 'Settlement lady,' as Mr. Free calls her, as being ' peculiarly deficient’in a sense of kinship with those amongst whom she works, or as having ever present in her mind 'the social gulf which is fixed between her and the masses.' The whole atmosphere of the Settlement is opposed to such a state of mind. The whole object of its existence is to promote that sense of kinship. Those who come to it full of enthusiasm at the thought of the work they are going to do, the influence they are going to exercise, will again and again have to learn the humbling lesson that the best they can do is to grow a little nearer to the people, to show them something like true friendship, above all, to understand their lives a little. They will find that they come to learn far more than to teach. It is this spirit which it will be the chief work of the head of the Settlement to create and to foster. She has to make a home for the residents, but a home in close fellowship with the people amongst whom they live. They will not talk or think of the gulf to be bridged; it will be no longer remembered under the close touch of sympathy.

It is difficult to keep your ideals high, to keep your vision clear, in the midst of work that must be full of discouragement in the con. stant presence of lives lived under conditions which one is powerless to change, and which yet seem to make anything like a true life impossible. Here comes the great advantage of living not alone but with others who are facing the same problems, so that courage and hope may be kept alive, and the spirit of joy in which all true work must be done may never fail. I remember many years ago hearing a Settlement described by one who lived in the neighbourhood but did not belong to it, as an unfailing source of brightness and encouragement to the other workers around. It brought new hope and enthusiasm for all. It brings young minds to struggle with the old problems. Their suggestions will often strike the older and more experienced workers as crude and unpractical, but it will be only those who have grown cynical with advancing life who will sneer at their aspirations. The fact that we have so often seen our hopes disappointed must not make us forget that it is the young men who see visions.

One most important side of Settlement work must not be forgotten. A Settlement should be a most useful place for training and study. We hear in these days a great deal about the need of training, about the necessity for experts in every branch of work. Training is requisite for Church-workers as well as for any other kind of worker, and the standard demanded from the women who do Church-work should be as high as it is in any other department of women's activity. But the need is so great that again and again workers without experience or training have to be accepted. Women and girls are employed in Sunday-schools who have a most imperfect knowledge of the subjects they are called upon to teach. District visitors are sent into poor streets with no guidance as to how they are to meet the many problems that will confront them. In many parishes they are still allowed to administer grocery tickets and give relief at their own discretion, pursuing those methods which have made us of late ask ourselves whether unwise philanthropy has not been one of the most prolific causes in creating that vast mass of the unemployable who have lost all sense of real independence and all desire for real work. The clergy are not to blame for making use of inefficient workers, since the community does not supply them with better, and it is impossible for most of them to find time to train their workers themselves. They do their best. They hold classes for the Sunday-school teachers and meetings for the district visitors, but these are not always very regularly attended. Neither is it possible for the clergy themselves to understand and study all the many questions connected with the well-being of women and children, the organisation of family life, the sanitation of the home in our crowded cities. The need for skilled women to share in all this work is increasingly felt. The municipal authorities are employing women sanitary inspectors and health visitors. The Charity Organisation Society largely employs women in all the varied departments of its work. With these and with many other agencies the Church-worker should be in close touch. She can herself be a most effective sanitary officer, even though only a voluntary one, for her work as a district visitor, or a holder of mothers' meetings, or a club-worker gives her exceptional opportunities for sanitary teaching. But if she is to be of use in this way, she must know something about hygiene and she must know something of sanitary legislation. It is equally important that she should be acquainted with factory legislation, with the conditions that regulate the work of children and women, with the various openings for apprenticeship, for learning trades, or profiting by continuation classes. What Mrs. Bosanquet has called interference in the lives of others,' even if it is prompted by the best intentions, may be productive of infinite evil if it is not wise interference. Those who wish to give some part of their lives to the service of the community should be ready to take the trouble to make their service really effective.

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