Oakhill House is a Rescue Home for women, which was given to the Army by Mrs. Crossley, a well-known local lady. It deals with prison, fallen, inebriate, and preventive cases. At the time of my visit there were sixty-three inmates, but when a new adjacent building is completed there will be room for more. There is a wonderful laundry in this Home, where the most beautiful washing is done at extremely moderate prices. The ironing and starching room was a busy sight, but what I chiefly remember about it was the spectacle of one melancholy old man, the only male among that crowd of women, seated by a steam-boiler that drove the machinery, to which it was his business to attend. (No woman can be persuaded to look after a boiler.) In the midst of all those females he had the appearance of a superannuated and disillusioned Turk contemplating his too extensive establishment and reflecting on its monthly bills.
The matron in charge informed me that even for these rough women there is no system of punishment whatsoever. No girl is ever restricted in her food, or put on bread and water, or struck, or shut away by herself. The Army maxim is that it is its mission not to punish but to try to reform. If in any particular case its methods of gentleness fail, which they rarely do, it is considered best that the case should depart, very possibly to return again later on.
She added that although many of these women had committed assaults, and even fought the Police, not one of them attacks another in the Home once in a year, and that during her twenty years of work, although she had lived among some of the worst women in England, she had never received a single blow. As an illustration of what the Salvation Army understands by this word ‘work’ I may state that throughout these twenty years, except for the allotted annual fortnight, this lady has had no furlough.
THE MEN’S SOCIAL WORK
I saw the Brigadier in charge of the Men’s Social Work in Glasgow at a great central Institution where hundreds of poor people sleep every night. The inscriptions painted on the windows give a good idea of its character. Here are some of them: ‘Cheap beds.’ ‘Cheap food.’ ’Waste paper collected.’ ‘Missing friends found.’ ‘Salvation for all.’
In addition to this Refuge there is an ‘Elevator’ of the usual type, in which about eighty men were at work, and an establishment called the Dale House Home, a very beautiful Adams’ house, let to the Army at a small rent by an Eye Hospital that no longer requires it. This house accommodates ninety-seven of the men who work in the Elevator.
The Brigadier informed me that the distress at Glasgow was very great last year. Indeed, during that year of 1909 the Army fed about 35,000 men at the docks, and 65,000 at the Refuge, a charity which caused them to be officially recognized for the first time by the Corporation, that sent them a cheque in aid of their work. Now, however, things have much improved, owing to the building of men-of-war and the forging of great guns for the Navy. At Parkhead Forge alone 8,000 men are being employed upon a vessel of the Dreadnought class, which will occupy them for a year and a half. So it would seem that these monsters of destruction have their peaceful uses.