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Regeneration - The Central Labour Bureau Post by :Truman Category :Nonfictions Author :H. Rider Haggard Date :May 2012 Read :877

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Regeneration - The Central Labour Bureau

This Bureau is established in the Social Headquarters at Whitechapel, a large building acquired as long ago as 1878. Here is to be seen the room in which General Booth used to hold some of his first prayer meetings, and a little chamber where he took counsel with those Officers who were the fathers of the Army. Also there is a place where he could sit unseen and listen to the preaching of his subordinates, so that he might judge of their ability.

The large hall is now part of yet another Shelter, which contains 232 beds and bunks. I inspected this place, but as it differs in no important detail from others, I will not describe it.

The Officer who is in charge of the Labour Bureau informed me that hundreds of men apply there for work every week, of whom a great many are sent into the various Elevators and Shelters. The Army finds it extremely difficult to procure outside employment for these men, for the simple reason that there is very little available. Moreover, now that the Government Labour Bureaux are open, this trouble is not lessened. Of these Bureaux, the Manager said that they are most useful, but fail to find employment for many who apply to them. Indeed, numbers of men come on from them to the Salvation Army.

The hard fact is that there are more idle hands than there is work for them to do, even where honest and capable folk are concerned. Thus, in the majority of instances, the Army is obliged to rely upon its own Institutions and the Hadleigh Land Colony to provide some sort of job for out-of-works. Of course, of such jobs there are not enough to go round, so many poor folk must be sent empty away or supported by charity.

I suggested that it might be worth while to establish a school of chauffeurs, and the Officers present said that they would consider the matter. Unfortunately, however, such an experiment must be costly at the present price of motor-vehicles.

I annex the Labour Bureau Statistics for May, 1910:--


Applicants for temporary employment 479
Sent to temporary employment 183
Applicants for Elevators 864
Sent to Elevators 260
Sent to Shelters 32


Applicants for temporary employment 461
Sent to temporary employment 160
Applicants for Elevators 417
Sent to Elevators 202
Sent to Shelters 20
Sent to permanent situations 35


This is a curious and interesting branch of the work of the Salvation Army. About two thousand times a year it receives letters or personal applications, asking it to find some missing relative or friend of the writer or applicant. In reply, a form is posted or given, which must be filled up with the necessary particulars. Then, if it be a London case, the Officer in charge sends out a skilled man to work up clues. If, on the other hand, it be a country case, the Officer in charge of the Corps nearest to where it has occurred, is instructed to initiate the inquiry. Also, advertisements are inserted in the Army papers, known as 'The War Cry' and 'The Social Gazette,' both in Great Britain and other countries, if the lost person is supposed to be on the Continent or in some distant part of the world.

The result is that a large percentage of the individuals sought for are discovered, alive or dead, for in such work the Salvation Army has advantages denied to any other body, scarcely excepting the Police. Its representatives are everywhere, and to whatever land they may belong or whatever tongue they may speak, all of them obey an order sent out from Headquarters wholeheartedly and uninfluenced by the question of regard. The usual fee charged for this work is 10_s_. 6_d_.; but when this cannot be paid, a large number of cases are undertaken free. The Army goes to as much trouble in these unpaid cases as in any others, only then it is not able to flood the country with printed bills. Of course, where well-to-do people are concerned, it expects that its out-of-pocket costs will be met.

The cases with which it has to deal are of all kinds. Often those who have disappeared are found to have done so purposely, perhaps leaving behind them manufactured evidence, such as coats or letters on a river-bank, suggesting that they have committed suicide. Generally, these people are involved in some fraud or other trouble. Again, husbands desert their wives, or wives their husbands, and vanish, in which instances they are probably living with somebody else under another name. Or children are kidnapped, or girls are lured away, or individuals emigrate to far lands and neglect to write. Or, perhaps, they simply sink out of all knowledge, and vanish effectually enough into a paupers grave.

But the oddest cases of all are those of a complete loss of memory, a thing that is by no means so infrequent as is generally supposed. The experience of the Army is that the majority of these cases happen among those who lead a studious life. The victim goes out in his usual health and suddenly forgets everything. His mind becomes a total blank. Yet certain instincts remain, such as that of earning a living.

Thus, to take a single recent example, the son of a large bookseller in a country town left the house one day, saying that he would not be away for long, and disappeared. At the invitation of his father, the Army took up the case, and ultimately found that the man had been working in its Spa Road Elevator under another name. Afterwards he went away, became destitute, and sold matches in the streets. Ultimately he was found in a Church Army Home. He recovered his memory, and subsequently lost it again to the extent that he could recall nothing which happened to him during the period of its first lapse. All that time vanished into total darkness.

This business of the hunting out of the missing through the agency of the Salvation Army is one which increases every day. It is not unusual for the Army to discover individuals who have been missing for thirty years and upwards.

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