I visited this Shelter in the late afternoon, before it was filled up. A number of dilapidated and antique females were sitting about in the rooms, talking or sewing. One old lady was doing crochet work. She told me that she made her living by it, and by flower-selling. Another informed me that it was years since she had slept anywhere else, and that she did not know what poor women like her would do without this place. Another was cooking the broth. Her husband was a sea captain, and when he died, her father had allowed her L1 a week until he died. Afterwards she took to drink, and drifted here, where, I was informed, she is doing well. And so on, and so on, ad infinitum. The Hanbury Street Women’s Shelter is not a cheerful spot to visit on a dull and rainy evening.
Slum work is an important branch of the Social labours of the Salvation Army, Thus last year the Slum Sisters visited over 105,000 families, over 20,000 sick, and over 32,000 public-houses, in which work they spent more than 90,000 hours of time. Also they attended 482 births, and paid nearly 9,000 visits in connexion with them.
There are nine Slum Settlements and Posts in London, and nineteen others in England, Scotland, and Ireland. The old system used to be for the Sisters and Nurses to live among the lowest class of the poor, lodging in the actual tenements in which their work was carried out. This, however, was abandoned as far as possible, because it was found that after the arduous toil of the day these ladies could get little rest at night, owing to the noise that went on about them, a circumstance that caused their health to suffer and made them inefficient. Now out of the 117 Officers engaged in Slum work in Great Britain, about one-half who labour in London live in five houses set apart for them in different quarters of the city; fifteen Officers being the usual complement to each house.
The particular dwelling of which I write is a good specimen of them all, and from it the Sisters and Nurses who live there work Shoreditch, Bethnal Green, Whitechapel, and the Hoxton and Hackney Road districts. It is decently furnished and a comfortable place in its way, although, of course, it stands in a poor neighbourhood. I remember that there was even the finishing touch of a canary in the window. I should add that no cases are attended in the house itself, which is purely a residence.
To this particular Settlement two qualified midwives and a nurse are attached. While I was there one of the midwives came in, very tired, at about half-past eleven in the morning. Since three o’clock on that same morning she had attended three confinements, so no wonder she was tired. She said that one of her cases was utterly unprovided with anything needful as the father was out of work, although on the occasion of a previous confinement they had all