18th April 1890. Hope and Charity.

Today in 1890 the Leeds Mercury reported that a Cinderella Club had been founded in Manchester, ‘To shed an occasional ray of light and cheer upon the dull lives of the slum children’.

Cinderella Clubs c 1889, supported by the Labour Church Movement, was an idea which seems to have come from Robert Batchford, a journalist with the Sunday Chronicle. The Movement centred on the growing industrial Midlands and North of England. ‘

The Birmingham Daily Post reported on 19th December 1890 that a Cinderella Club was founded after seeing the Manchester experiment and noted that 1,000 children had been fed at the Town Hall.

Looking at the pictures of the children of the time, including two holding collection boxes, their lives were more than ‘dull’, they were hollow-eyed, ragged, filthy and shoeless, though managing a smile.

Two boys in Sutton Park

Two boys in Sutton Park, Birmingham.

The problem was the endemic poverty of large swathes of the population where the Workhouse offered the only respite, though some Outdoor Relief was available, distributed through the Poor Law Guardians.

However the ‘Goschen Minute’ sought to restrict this Relief, the problem, as far as Goschen saw, was the large influx of people into crowded cities and that charitable help was undermining the distinction between deserving and undeserving poor, normally dealt with by the Workhouses.(1)

The purpose of Goschen was to reaffirm  the role of the Workhouse  and so to create a distinction between the Poor Law, and the thought that indiscriminate relief was being offered by the 1869 Charity Organisation Society (COS).


However COS led by Helen Bosanquet and Octavia Hill, believed in the Samuel Smiles creed of self-help and limited government intervention, having no time for scroungers.

One of the founders of COS was Alsager Hay Hill who founded one of the first Labour Exchanges, along with Labour News, now Construction News, concerned with finding employment in the construction industry.

The later Associated Charities acted as a clearing house for the poor, dividing the deserving, ill, elderly and non-able bodied, and the undeserving poor, who would be expected to take the Workhouse Test.

Middle Class ladies were now given a role visiting the poor to discover eligibility for charity relief; the beginning of casework and the roots of social work.

The COS was renamed the Family Welfare Association in 1946, now The Family Action Charity.

(1) Minute issued by the Poor Law Board, Annual Report 1869-70. Relief to the Poor in the Metropolis. 1871.

Right Hon. G.J. Goschen was President of the Local Government Board which had superseded the Poor Law Board.

Ref: Social Work and Poverty. Lester Parrott. 2014.

Ref: wikipedia.org/COS.

Ref: vichist.blogspot.com/Pic Image. (Birmingham-Library-Archives).


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About colindunkerley

My name is Colin Dunkerley who having spent two years in the Royal Army Pay Corps ploughed many a barren industrial furrow until drawn to the 'chalk-face' as a teacher, now retired. I have spent the last 15 years researching all aspects of life in Britain since Roman times.

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