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Workhouses/Poorhouses S5/6 Cradle to the Grave. Summary By 1860’s there were many local groups who tried to help the poor. Most of them wanted to help.

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Presentation on theme: "Workhouses/Poorhouses S5/6 Cradle to the Grave. Summary By 1860’s there were many local groups who tried to help the poor. Most of them wanted to help."— Presentation transcript:

1 Workhouses/Poorhouses S5/6 Cradle to the Grave

2 Summary By 1860’s there were many local groups who tried to help the poor. Most of them wanted to help people help themselves –Oxfam advert “Don’t give him a fish to feed him today; teach him to fish so he can feed himself and his family everyday”

3 Charities There were many charities to help children. Dr Barnardo’s, for example, had 100 homes for 60,000 orphans by In Scotland, Quarrier’s homes was raising £20,000 a year by 1890 to help orphans. The RSPCC was formed in 1894 to protect children who were starved, beaten or abused. The most famous of all was started in 1878 by William Booth (an ex- Methodist minister) –His Salvation Army helped everyone in need: the sick, homeless and unemployed in the hope that their souls could be saved by making them more aware of God and religion.

4 Booth Booth saw poverty could ruin people He had witnessed poverty first hand and never forgot the faces upon people who were destroyed by poverty.

5 Workhouses/Poorhouses As most of the charitable organisations were organised locally (except Dr Barnardo’s and the Salvation Army), there was often not enough help from charities in other places. To help this problem, the government passed laws so groups of parishes in local areas could provide help. Since they did not want to encourage laziness, it was only as a last resort that people could look for help from the local parish.

6 …contd In England a Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834 said that anyone asking their local parish for help had to go into a place called the workhouse. Parishes were organised into Poor Law Unions ( parishes) which built a workhouse. The local ratepayers paid a special rax called the poor rate to pay for the running of the workhouses. The conditions in these were worse than some prisons so people only asked for help when they were really desperate (which is what ratepayers wanted as it kept the costs down).

7 CHRISTMAS DAY IN THE WORKHOUSE Oliver Twist asking for more Drawing by George Cruikshank Birmingham Workhouse

8 The Scots The Scots did not get a Poor Law Act until It copied the organisation laid down in the English Act. Help was to be given to those too sick, young or old to work. Often the inmates of poorhouses (Scottish name for the workhouses) were deserted wives, the elderly, the chronic sick and the insane. In England, children also stayed in the workhouse but in Scotland, children were often boarded out with ordinary families so they could lead more normal lives.

9 …contd The Poor Law system in Scotland did not have to help people who were unemployed. Parishes formed themselves into groups and built a ‘poorhouse’ for their area. By 1895 there were 66 of these ‘poorhouses’ in Scotland. In 1894 the parish councils took them over.

10 Inmates' clothing was either destroyed or stored on admission and they were required to wear poorhouse clothing to discourage them from running away. Poorhouses were government-run facilities where the poor, infirm, or mentally ill could live. They were usually filthy and full to the brim of societies unwanted people. Many of the people who lived in the poorhouses were required to work to contribute to the cost of their board and it was not uncommon for whole families to live together with other families in the communal environment. In the Victorian era life didn’t get much worse than that of a poorhouse resident.

11 Going into the Poorhouse When someone asked for help an inspector would go round and look at their situation. They filled in a form and then the Parish Board decided what sort of help to give. Often they gave ‘outdoor relief’ = they helped people in their own homes with food, medicine and help with the rent. Sometimes they sent people into the poorhouse = ‘indoor relief’

12 …contd To most people, the thought of ending their lives as paupers in the poorhouse was very frightening. The building was dismal and the food was just enough to keep you healthy. You had to wear a poorhouse uniform and you were separated from the other members of your family. Despite this, poorhouses continued to grow.

13 Two cases from Douglas Parish, Lanarkshire in 1881 Name: Margaret park, single, aged 65 Occupation: domestic servant Dependants: None Information: Son Andrew, aged 40, single miner, is in infirmary. She wishes relief until Andrew comes home Inspector’s Decision: offered poorhouse Decision of Parochial Board: outdoor relief at 1s 6d per week Name: Agnes Dill, single, aged 24 Occupation: farm servant Dependants: James Dill, aged 2 Information: Agnes is expecting her second child and has come to stay with her sister who seeks relief for her. Inspector’s Decision: offered poorhouse Decision of Parochial Board: relief in poorhouse

14 Unemployed? There was no help from the poor law for the able- bodied unemployed (those who didn’t have a job but they were physically fine). By 1905 the trade slumps (factories closing down because they was no work for them, therefore people being put out of a job) meant that this group of people could not be ignored. It also meant that they were not out of work as a result of being lazy. The Unemployed Workers Act made burghs of over 50,000 set up ‘distress committees’ to help the unemployed by providing them with some sort of work for the money they were given.

15 Questions Write heading ‘The Workhouse/Poorhouse’ Use pages to help you answer the following questions. Answer in sentences using the stem of the question 1. Why were conditions in workhouses deliberately made harsh? 2. Name four types of people who might end up in the poorhouse. 3. In what way were children treated differently in England and Scotland? 4. Name five reasons people did not want to go into the poorhouse. 5. Which group of people were not usually given help under the Poor Law Act? 6. Look at Source K. Which group was regarded as the ‘deserving poor’ and which as ‘undeserving’ and why?

16 Discussion Point ‘Helping the poor by giving them money is a bad thing. It only encourages them to be even more lazy’. Q. Would Samuel Smiles have agreed withis statement? Q. Can you suggest an argument for and against this statement? (in pairs). Q. How far do you agree with this statement?


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