Saving the Future: Mission of the Save the Children Fund: Practical Service at Home and Abroad
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[ 349 Saving the Future: Mission of the Save the Children Fund: Practical Service at Home and Abroad The World’s Children: The Official Organ of the Save the Children Fund, 16 (Mar 1936) 85-871 Different kinds of charity will appeal to different temperaments. It may not be impertinent to explain why the Save the Children Fund appeals to mine, and why I think it should appeal to a variety of persons.2 Most charities are either for domestic or for foreign purposes; and those which exist for work abroad are always likely to suffer from the prejudice that charity begins at home and that there are too many good causes near at hand in urgent need of help, and that every country should look after its own needs. But the charity that both begins and ends at home is an imperfect expression of the Christian virtue of charity. I should like to point out that the work of this Fund is a rather unusual combination of domestic and foreign aid. Its work at home, which is of primary importance, is of the most practical kind. Its chief attention is devoted in helping children from the congested metropolitan boroughs and from the depressed industrial areas, both by providing a temporary change of scene and by helping them on the spot with clothing, food and medicine. Everyone knows that the amount of work that ought to be done in Great Britain, in the way of looking after the health of such children when they are ill, and of preserving their health and providing a happier and more hopeful childhood, far exceeds the resources of this Fund. Many people, on perceiving the great discrepancy between all that should be done, and the actual means of such a fund as this, are apt to depreciate the value of what they call more salvage work, and to think it merely delays the eventual taking over of these tasks by the Government. Now, the extent to which Government should take upon itself to supply the defects of proper domestic care – even when these defects are due neither to the negligence nor to the ignorance of parents, but to conditions of misery far beyond the parents ’ control – is a question which I need not take up now. My point is that I do not consider for a moment that such private charity interferes in any way with the progress of governmental care. I think that it will be found that in general it happens far more often that it is just this struggle by a Essays, Reviews, Commentaries, and Public Letters: 1936 350 ] small number of devoted individuals, that calls attention to the importance of the need and brings about the public interest which results in the Government, or the community as a whole, assuming the responsibility; and the visible evidence of what can be done for the welfare of children on the limited scale possible to a private society is the best way of bringing home to the community as a whole the urgency of the problem, and of persuading it that something could be done on a much larger scale. This society, however, is not only concerned with the establishment of small centres. Even if it were, I should suggest that there is to-day a tendency to deprecate the saving of individual souls and bodies as trifling, and to take seriously only what can be done for mankind on a large scale. A doctrine of the unimportance of the individual, which appears to be held explicitly and consistently in Russia, has affected the attitude of many people in western Europe whose traditions deny this assertion, and who should believe that every human soul is as important as every other, and that the saving of any one, or even making it possible for that one to save itself, is of infinite importance. But in any case, I would call attention to what the society has done, and by inference to the further possible expansion of its activities, in the way of meddling with public activity and legislation. “For the enlightenment of public opinion and the improvement of conditions of child life at home and abroad,” says one of its publications, “the Save the Children Fund undertakes sociological research and propaganda. TheFundwasresponsible,forexample,foranotableenquiryintotheeffects of unemployment on children and young people in Great Britain, which was carried out with Government and other official co-operation in 1932-33; and representations made to the Colonial Office...