Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

ABSTRACT OF THE NINTH ANNUAL REPORT OF THE

RAGGED SCHOOL UNION. In the goodness of God, by whose kind providence it is that his people can do unto him any lively and acceptable service, the Committee have been spared through another year's labours, and brought in safety, happiness, and peace, to another joyful Anniversary of the Ragged School Union.

With an humbling sense of their own shortcomings-with many recollec. tions of imperfect service, but with deep gratitude to the Giver of all good for his continuing to smile upon their efforts, the Committee desire now to submit to their Subscribers and Friends their Report for the year just closed.

When they look around and perceive how many institutions for doing good now claim the attention of the benevolent, and then consider how this Society has gained, and continues to advance, in public favour, the Committee cannot help to recognise in a peculiar manner the blessing of God resting upon their efforts; for not only does the Union continue to prosper-its funds and also its friends being on the increase—but so many offshoots continue to spring up from it, (thus showing the beautiful fertility of one good idea,) and the influence of its operations seems to extend in so many ways, and to open up so many new streams of active Christian benevolence, that they are equally astonished and delighted to observe, how through God's goodness so humble an instrumentality is made capable of producing so large an amonnt of real substantial blessing.

The Committee particularly refer to the auxiliary operations of the Society -things not originally contemplated by the early friends of the Union.

They may mention among these, Emigration for elder lads and young Women; Industrial Classes for elder scholars ; Refuges and Dormitories for the destitute and homeless ; placing out the well-behaved in situations to gain an honest livelihood (of which the Shoe-black Society is one gratifying example ;) Mothers' Meetings, for mending clothes, and for giving instruction in domestic economy and family duties; Juvenile Libraries and Penny Banks ; Reading Rooms, and similar auxiliaries in helping forward the great work of spreading the Gospel leaven through the mass of iniquity that abounds in the midst of us. These, it will be seen, ere this Report concludes, are all doing a measure of good; and when to this is added 'the large amount of Christian philanthropy that is kept at work, by means of the Local Committees, Teachers, and Superintendents, and the Public Meetings of the Local Schools; and also by the monthly issue of the large and small Magazines—it is difficult to realise the amount of sympathy, and interest thus excited and kept alive towards the poor, the forlorn, and the outcast of this vast city.

Certain it is that such good can never be put in a tabular form, or embodied in any Report, however long, or however minute it may be. The Committee can only, in some measure, shadow it forth by giving a few particulars, under various heads, which they will now do as briefly as possible.

FIRST-AS TO THE NUMBER OF Schools, TEACHERS, AND CHILDREN. The number of Schools is now 116, a small increase on last year.

Thirteen new Schools have been opened, but several of those on the list last year have been closed, for various reasons. One has been removed from the list in consequence of the children now being of the class that can pay a trifle for their schooling. The Camden Town Female Dormitory, being more an Institution for reforming adult females than a Ragged School

, has also been erased from the list; and two or three others are closed, from the leases of the buildings having expired.

NO. LIV.-VOL. V.

M

The Pye Street School of Industry having, from various causes, become a refuge and dormitory for destitute boys, rather than an Industrial School

, (the day scholars having been drawn away by other Ragged Schools opened in the locality) the premises having become thoroughly dilapidated, unhealthy, and unfit for such an Institution, large sums being constantly drawn from the funds of the Union for its support in consequence of its own income being so small, and the term of agreement for the premises having expired, the Committee resolved to close it at Christmas last. By degrees they reduced the number of inmates, and at that time transferred all those that remained to similar Institutions in other localities, except four, who were restored to their friends.

Six of the lads were received into a Refuge for the Homeless and Destitute, lately begun in Kentish Town-an establishment wholly supported by one benevolent lady, whose noble liberality and kindness to ragged children has more than once been acknowledged in former Reports, and the Committee are thus consoled for the closing of one Institution by the opening of another, which they trust will be equally useful and more permanent.

Five of them were sent to an Institution of a somewhat similar character, an account of which appears in the May number of this Magazine, called the

Home in the East; four were received into St. Giles's Refuge, who have since gone to Canada, and six became Shoe-blacks.

The Committee have been more intent upon improving the organization and internal condition of the Schools already in existence than in opening new

This may account for the small increase in the number of Schools, as well as the small decrease in the number of children.

But many cases now occur of children's parents becoming able or willing to pay, and these children are removed to a higher school accordingly; and thus it is that by children being drafted off, by others being placed out in situations to gain an honest living, by emigration, by increased employment among

the poor, and also by the care exercised in admitting only the right class as above referred to, the number of, scholars, though rather more in Day and Infant Schools, will, on the whole, be found to be somewhat less

ones.

than last year.

The numbers are as follow:-
In Day Schools

8,008
In Week Evening ditto

5,892 In Sabbath Schools.

11,733 In Industrial Classes

2,040 The number of Paid Teachers is 221; of Voluntary Teachers, 1,787.

The last item is particularly gratifying to the Committee. That amid all the varied and alluring occupations of a great city like London, such a large number of persons can continue to devote

themselves to the self-denying and laborious work of teaching the ragged and the destitute, the careless and the depraved, is a matter for which the Committee would especially thank God; though they cannot withhold their heartfelt thanks from the Teachers themselves, by whose zeal, energy, and discretion, it is that this Society mainly can continue to prosper. * The subject of

EMIGRATION calls next for some remarks. The accounts that continue to be received from the lads (the sweepings of London streets, as some call them) are almost without exception gratifying. They are mostly in situations in trade or farm

* The Committee must add here, that the number of Voluntary Teachers is not yet sufficient, and that many children are still kept out of school for want of Teachers inside.

work, and seldom receive less than £20 yearly, besides board and lodging. Many receive much more, and some are already trading on their own account.

The Emigration Fund having been nearly exhausted, the Committee in June last resolved to wait upon Sir J. Pakington, then the Secretary for the Colonies, and ask him for assistance to send out some of the oldest and bestbehaved lads.

They thought that from the demand for labour in Australia, and the superabundance of idle lads here, some part of the large sums at his disposal (expressly for emigration purposes) might be granted to them as an encouragement in the good work of Ragged Schools. The success and good conduct of the former emigrants, as testified by Captain Stanley Carr at the last Annual Meeting, and by many other friends (reckoning their own testimony as nothing at all,) led the Committee confidently to anticipate a favourable reply; but they were doomed to disappointment.

After hearing the statements of the Deputation, the Colonial Secretary promised a reply in a few days, which he sent, and was to the effect that in the present state of the labour market in Australia, he could not apply the funds of the Colonial Government to Emigrants from Ragged Schools.

The Committee must fall back upon their friends and the public once more for Contributions to their Emigration Fund, whereby to carry on this important department of their work, the only one suited to a large class of the elder boys and girls in Ragged Schools.

From accounts since received, however, from Australia, they do not intend for the present to encourage their youthful emigrants to go to that colony; indeed, they have resolved, for a time at least, to discourage any of them going there.

They intend to advise all Local Schools to send boys to Canada, or some other British colony, where there is plenty of employment for young men and boys, and where the temptations to vice are not so great as in places contiguous to gold fields.

INDUSTRIAL CLASSES. Under a conviction that industrial training should form a part of the education of every ragged boy and girl, (and indeed of every child who in this life is to get his bread by his own labour,) your Committee have been very anxious to extend the number of these classes.

But the difficulty of teaching either boys or girls a handicraft, where the attendance is so irregular, children so rude, and teachers (who are competent to teach,) so expensive, offers almost insurmountable barriers to progress without very large funds at command.

Where the aim is to raise the child and to give him some idea of the dignity of honest labour,” teazing oakum, horse-hair picking, or such employment, is not likely to lead to much improvement, and it is difficult to discover anything that such a class can make which will find a ready sale, and yet not interfere with the labour-market, or injure the honest workman.

Employment for girls that would prove remunerative is particularly needed; but from a proposal lately made to them by a lady who has invented and patented a new method of making toys, and from other projects, they are not without hope that they may yet find an occupation for girls as well as boys, that would prove remunerative, and yet not in any way interfere with any of our own home manufactures.

THE SHOE-BLACK SOCIETY continues to prosper. The average of boys employed for the year ending Lady Day, 1853, is thirty-seven; the amount earned by cleaning 182,537 pairs of boots and shoes, or, 3,510 weekly, £760 11s. 5d. Of this sum, £450 was paid directly to the boys for food, etc. ; £160 towards expenses of depot, Superintendent, etc.; and £150 to the boys' credit in the Savings-bank. The average earnings of each lad per week have been 78. 11d.; of this, he has had 48. 8d. to himself at once, ls. 8d. reserved for general expenses, and ls. 7d. plaeed to his account in the Savings-bank. The sum at the end of the year to the credit of the lads is £81. Eighteen have gone abroad, the greater number paying for a portion of their outfit out of their own savings: twenty-nine of the Schools have recommended boys to this Society.

The subject of

DORMITORIES, OR REFUGES FOR THE DESTITUTE, Next demands attention. In all large communities, in spite of the various efforts made by the parish and other regularly-organized bodies to provide for the wants of the poor, many exceptional cases arise, which require special attention, and can only be relieved by special charity.

Notwithstanding all the provision made by existing Institutions for the prevention and alleviation of poverty and destitution, many cases are constantly occurring (amongst juveniles especially) of deep distress, arising from neglect or desertion of parents, or the vagrant, criminal habits of the children themselves.

Besides the two Refuges already named, that in Kentish Town, and that called the “Home in the East,” (which latter is not on the list of this Union,) there are in connection with this Society, the following:

Field Lane Refuge and Dormitory for 170 persons.
St. Giles' Refuge and Dormitory for 25 girls and 25 boys
Neal's Yard Dormitory for 20 persons.
Grotto Passage Refuge for 20 boys.
Dolphin Court Refuge for 9 boys and 5 girls.
Dorchester Place Refuge for 30 girls.
Colchester Street for 3 boys.
Richmond Street for 12 boys.
Phillips' Gardens for 10 boys.
Britannia Court for 12 boys.
York Place, Strand for 10 Shoe-blacks.
Dacre Street for 13 girls.

Hill Street Refuge for 20 girls, where there are also a Laundry, and a Nursery for infants and children whose parents are compelled to leave home all day to go out washing, etc.

>

CHILDREN PLACED IN SITUATIONS is one important auxiliary to Ragged School work. The great object of the Union is thus to train children to provide for themselves ; to lessen vice and pauperism, idleness and crime; to increase honest industry, self-dependence, and virtue.

The number of children who have emigrated, as already mentioned, is one result of this grand object. The number of children put into situations at home, to get an honest livelihood, is another. By a return received from 44 of the Schools, no less than 555 boys, and 466 girls, have been placed in situations during the past year.

MOTHERS' MEETINGS are on the increase. Twenty-four Schools now have such associations in connection with them, attended by above 770 poor mothers, who come to be assisted in making and mending their clothes, hearing the Scriptures read, and receiving words of sympathy and advice by the Ladies who kindly carry out this good work.

LIBRARIES. The Committee are pleased to find that Libraries for the scholars are on the increase ; 33 Schools now have such, some only 40 or 50 volumes, but some 300 to 400, and one eren 800 volumes.

The Committee rejoice at this auxiliary to their efforts, and as the small Magazine, intended expressly for the young, keeps up a circulation of about 6,000 monthly, and many other little books and tracts are given to the chil. dren by their teachers from time to time, it is hoped some opposing influence is thus exercised to debasing periodicals.*

PENNY BANKS, OR CLOTHING FUNDS, are also on the increase. Into these, parents or children may deposit once aweek or so ld., Id., or even a Id., which probably they would otherwise waste or spend in trifles or drink. This accumulating for six or twelve months is then increased by the liberality of friends, and expended in suitable clothing or materials for it; and by this means it is found that in twelve months sometimes a school is so changed and improved that it is not like the same place, nor the children like the same beings. In a return from 42 Schools, no less than £529 has been thus received and expended during the year.

CITY MISSION MEETINGS AND RAGGED CHURCHES, or a separate service for the poor, are found most profitable and encourag. ing. Nearly 40 Schools now hold such services, attended by above 1,400 adults and children ; and these, if increased, may go far to supply a want greatly desired by many, viz., Ragged Churches.

In addition this it is found by inquiry, that 29 Schools have managed to take above 1,000 of the Ragged Class regularly to public worship—thus guiding their little feet into the "paths of pleasantness and peace."

During the year 1,920 Bibles have been sold to the children in the various schools at 6d, each, beside those given away by the teachers.

THE MAGAZINES, large and small, continue to be circulated. The former contains many in. teresting particulars in regard to Ragged Schools, and if our friends would only read and circulate this work, the Committee would not fear as to the success of the Union. As it is only 2d. a number, and can be ordered of any bookseller in town or country, it is hoped that an effort will still be made to extend its circulation, and thus increase the interest of the public in the operations of this Society.

The small Magazine has already been alluded to. It is suited for children in the ordinary Sunday Schools as well as the Ragged School, and is only $d. monthly.

THE FINANCES OF THE SOCIETY are this

year improved by two legacies, that of James Grant, Esq., for £1,000, and the other, that of Mrs. Vaughan, for £100. This has enabled the Committee to give about £1,700 in special and other grants, chiefly to pay off debts, and also to increase the amount of ordinary grants, without diminishing the Deposit Fund.

By a return lately received from 70 of the Schools, the sums raised by them

Any donations of suitable books would be acceptable, and may be sent to the Office, Exeter Hall.

« AnteriorContinuar »