The Officer in charge informed me that there is much need for a Maternity Hospital in Liverpool.
There are also Institutions for men in Liverpool, but these I must pass over.
The Officer in charge of the Men’s Social Work in Manchester told me the same story that I had heard in Liverpool as to the prevailing distress. He said, ’It has been terrible the last few winters. I have never seen anything like it. We know because they come to us, and the trouble is more in a fixed point than in London. Numbers and numbers come, destitute of shelter or food or anything. The cause is want of employment. There is no work. Many cases, of course, go down through drink, but the most cannot get work. The fact is that there are more men than there is work for them to do, and this I may say is a regular thing, winter and summer.’
A sad statement surely, and one that excites thought.
I asked what became of this residue who could not find work. His answer was, ‘They wander about, die off, and so on.’
A still sadder statement, I think.
The Major in charge is a man of great organising ability, force of character, and abounding human sympathy. Yet he was once one of the melancholy army of wasters. Some seventeen years ago he came into the Army through one of its Shelters, a drunken, out-of-place cabinet-maker, who had been tramping the streets. They gave him work and he ‘got converted.’ Now he is the head of the Manchester Social Institutions, engaged in finding work for or converting thousands of others.
At first the Army had only one establishment in Manchester, which used to be a cotton mill. Now it is a Shelter for 200 men. Then it took others, some of which are owned and some hired, among them a great ‘Elevator’ on the London plan, where waste paper is sorted and sold. The turn-over here was over L8,000 in 1909, and may rise to L12,000. I forget how many men it finds work for, but every week some twenty-five new hands come in, and about the same number pass out.
This is a wonderful place, filled with what appears to be rubbish, but which is really valuable material. Among this rubbish all sorts of strange things are to be found. Thus I picked out of it, and kept as a souvenir, a beautifully-bound copy of Wesley’s Hymns, published about a hundred years ago. Lying near it was an early edition of Scott’s ‘Marmion.’ This Elevator more than pays its way; indeed the Army is saving money out of it, which is put by to purchase other buildings.
Then there are houses where the people employed in the paper-works lodge, a recently-acquired home for the better class of men, which was once a mansion of the De Clifford family, and afterwards a hospital, and a store where every kind of oddment is sold by Dutch auction. These articles are given to the Army, and among the week’s collection I saw clocks, furniture, bicycles, a parrot cage, and a crutch. Not long ago the managers of this store had a goat presented to them, which nearly ate them out of house and home, as no one would buy it, and they did not like to send the poor beast to the butcher.