Another branch of the Army women’s work is that of the rescue of prostitutes from the streets, which is known as the ‘Midnight Work.’ For the purpose of this endeavour it hires a flat in Great Titchfield Street, of which, and of the mission that centres round it, I will speak later in this book.
The Women’s Social Work of the Salvation Army began in London, in the year 1884, at the cottage of a woman-soldier of the Army who lived in Whitechapel. This lady, who was interested in girls without character, took some of them into her home. Eventually she left the place which came into the hands of the Army, whereon Mrs. Bramwell Booth was sent to take charge of the twelve inmates whom it would accommodate. The seed that was thus sown in 1884 has now multiplied itself into fifty-nine Homes and Agencies for women in Great Britain alone, to say nothing of others abroad and in the Colonies. But this is only a beginning.
‘We look forward,’ said Mrs. Bramwell Booth to me, ’to a great increase of this side of our work at home. No year has passed without the opening of a new Women’s Home of some kind, and we hope that this will continue. Thus I want to build a very big Maternity Hospital if I can get the money. We have about L20,000 in hand for this purpose; but the lesser of the two schemes before us will cost L35,000.’
Will not some rich and charitable person provide the L15,000 that are lacking?
LOWER CLAPTON ROAD
The Women’s Social Headquarters of the Salvation Army in England is situated at Clapton. It is a property of nearly three acres, on which stand four houses that will be rebuilt whenever funds are forthcoming for the erection of the Maternity Hospital and Training Institution for nurses and midwives which I have already mentioned. At present about forty Officers are employed here, most of whom are women, under the command of Commissioner Cox, one of the foremost of the 600 women-Officers of the Salvation Army in the United Kingdom who give their services to the women’s social work.
It is almost needless for me to add that Commissioner Cox is a lady of very great ability, who is entirely devoted to the cause to which she has dedicated her life. One of the reasons of the great success of the Salvation Army is that only able people exactly suited to the particular work in view are put in authority over that work. Here there are no sinecures, no bought advowsons, and no freehold livings. Moreover, the policy of the Army, as a general rule, is not to allow any one to remain too long in any one office, lest he or she should become fossilized or subject to local influences.
I remember when I was in America hearing of a case in which a very leading Officer of the Army, who chanced to be a near relative of General Booth, declined to obey an order to change his command for another in a totally different part of the world. The order was repeated once or twice, and as often disobeyed. Resignation followed and an attempt to found a rival Organization. I only mention this matter to show that discipline is enforced in this Society without fear, favour, or prejudice, which is, perhaps, a principal reason of its efficiency.