This Training Institution is a building admirably suited to the purpose to which it is put. Originally it was a ladies’ school, which was purchased by the Salvation Army. The dining-room of the Cadets was very well arranged and charmingly decorated with flowers, as was that of the Officers beyond. There was also a Cadets’ retiring-room, where I saw some of them reading or otherwise amusing themselves on their Saturday half-holiday. The Army would be glad to find and train more of these self-sacrificing workers; but the conditions of the pay which they can offer and the arduous nature of the lifelong service involved, are such that those of a satisfactory class are not too readily forthcoming.
Attached to this Training Institution is a Home for girls of doubtful or bad antecedents, which I also visited. This Rescue Home is linked up with the Training School, so that the Cadets may have the opportunity of acquiring a practical knowledge of the class of work upon which they are to be engaged in after-life. Most of the girls in the Rescue Home have passed through the Police-courts, and been handed over to the care of the Army by magistrates. The object of the Army is to reform them and instruct them in useful work which will enable them to earn an honest living.
Many of these girls have been in the habit of thieving from their mistresses or others, generally in order to enable them to make presents to their lovers. Indeed, it would seem that this mania for making presents is a frequent cause of the fall of young persons with a natural leaning to dishonesty and a desire to appear rich and liberal. The Army succeeds in reclaiming a great number of them; but the thieving instinct is one not easy to eradicate.
All these girls seemed fairly happy. A great deal of knitting is done by them, and I saw a room furnished with a number of knitting machines, where work is turned out to the value of nearly L25 a week. Also I was shown piles of women’s and children’s underclothing and other articles, the produce of the girls’ needles, which are sold to help to defray the expenses of the Home. In the workroom on this Saturday afternoon a number of the young women were engaged in mending their own garments. After their period of probation many of these girls are sent out to situations found for them by the Army.
This Home is one of much the same class as that which I have just described. It has accommodation for forty-eight girls, of whom over 1,000 have passed through the Institution, where they are generally kept for a period of six months. Most of the young women in the Home when I visited it had been thieves. One, who was twenty-seven years of age, had stolen ever since she was twelve, and the lady in charge told me that when she came to them everything she had on her, and almost all the articles in her trunk were the property of former mistresses.