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The Rushden Echo and Argus, 9th September, 1932, transcribed by Gill Hollis
Social Centre for Unemployed
Opened at Rushden This Week
Town Committee’s Final Arrangements

The final arrangements in connection with the opening of the Social Centre for the unemployed of Rushden, at the Y.M.C.A., which took place on Monday, were made at a meeting of the Rushden Social Service Committee which was held on Friday last, Mr. J. Roe, J.P., chairman of the Rushden Urban Council, being in the chair.

It was stated that games, newspapers, etc., would be provided for the men’s recreation, and that the hours of opening would be from 9 a.m. to 12, and 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Mondays to Fridays, except the afternoon of the first Monday in the month, Thursday afternoons from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., and every alternate Friday. No charge is being made for the room by the Y.M.C.A. who are only imposing the condition of “no gambling.”

It was also stated that football matches will shortly be arranged in Spencer Park.

A welcome was extended at the meeting to Mr. E. E. Bennett, who had been appointed by the Rushden Branch of the British Legion as the representative on the Committee, and it was also announced that the Rushden Permanent Allotment Association had selected Mr. Gutteridge to represent them.

Representatives of the Rushden Unemployed Association reported to the Committee that their representation was quite satisfactory and they had no desire to increase it at present.

The recommendations of the various sub-committees were approved.

An offer by the Rushden Jazz band to hold a parade and collection on Feast Saturday, was accepted with thanks.

With regard to the question of finance it was decided to call a meeting on September 30th of all institutions in the town interested, to arrange for sectional efforts to be made during the coming autumn and winter.

Monday’s Opening

The Centre was opened for the first time on Monday morning. A fair number of men attended and soon made themselves at home and took advantage of the recreational facilities offered. Visits were paid during the course of the morning by the Revs. T. S. Stoney, W. R. Leaton, and T. W. Gill.

Rector’s Comments

Writing in the St. Mary’s Parish Magazine for September, the Rev. Travers S. Stoney states: “There seems to be an impression abroad that the Social Service Committee is going to relieve ‘hard cases,’ this winter. ‘Hard cases’ will probably be numbered by hundreds and no committee such as ours can possibly investigate and help them all and to relieve some and not others out of our limited resources means discontent and heart-burnings. I say this so that the many ‘hard cases’ may not be disappointed later on.”

The Rushden Echo and Argus, 7th October, 1932

Rushden to Assist The Unemployed
Generous Offers of Help Received - Suggestions Put to Town’s Meeting

Generous offers of help were promised by various organisations of the town at a meeting convened by the Rushden Social Service Committee on Friday last in the Congregational Schools, to consider ways and means of raising money to assist the local unemployed during the coming winter.

If the hopes of the Committee are to be realised a substantial sum will be required, for further schemes, in addition to the rest room at the Y.M.C.A. (the cost of maintenance of which is about £2 per week), are likely to be embarked upon.

It was stated that there was a possibility that the Boot and Shoe School would be available for the unemployed to repair and even make boots and shoes for themselves and their families.

Mr. J. Roe, J.P. (chairman of the Rushden Urban Council), presided, supported by the Rev. W. R. Leaton and Mr. W. E. Capon (joint secretaries of the Social Service Committee).

About thirty organisations were represented, apologies for absence being received from the Query Motor Club and Mr. F. J. Sharwood, C.C.

Opening the discussion, Mr. Roe said: “This meeting of representatives of the various organisations of Rushden has been called to interest you in the work of the Social Service Committee and also to enlist your support on behalf of the unemployed of the town. You will remember that about two months ago a town’s meeting was called and it was decided to form a Social Service Committee, which was appointed at that time.

“They have met on several occasions, and I am pleased to tell you that we have made a start, and we have various other schemes in hand which will come on later.

“The Y.M.C.A. very kindly offered the use of their room to this Committee and we have equipped it with various games, papers, and periodicals, and I believe it has been fairly well attended during the last month and very much appreciated by the unemployed of the town. But we want to go on a little bit further than that if we can, and the next question, of course, is where is the money to come from?

Two Offers

“We know the clubs and other organisations in the town are arranging their winter programmes and we want to ask them if they will consider giving something during the coming winter to the funds of the Social Service Committee. There are many ways in which they can help; it is not a very difficult matter to organise whist drives, or socials, and these bring in a fair amount of money. This we shall need, because this thing cannot be carried on unless the Finance Committee sees the money coming in from some direction. We had an offer from the Rushden Jazz Band who paraded the town last Saturday, and also from Mr. Stewart, of the boxing booth at the fair, who offered us last night’s takings, and we are very much obliged to them for the very kind help they have rendered.

“I dare say some of you have seen the remarks in the Press recently, but it is not my intention to refer to them because the various members of the Unemployed Association who are on this Committee are quite satisfied that we are doing all we possibly can for them.” (Hear, hear!)

“Such remarks will not help this Social Service Committee, nor the unemployed of the town.


“What we really desire to-night is for you to go back to your respective organisations and really bring this social service work before them. We want funds and we think you can help in a great many ways. I am sorry the Query Motor Club representatives are not here tonight because I should have liked to suggest to them that they run a dance, which they do very successfully, and from which they have got large sums for various charities. Perhaps the Football Club might make a collection at one of their matches, too.”

Mr. Capon said he would like to report that the proceeds of the Jazz Band’s collection were £2 7s., and of the boxing booth £1 17s. 11d. They were very grateful for that financial help.

“The chairman,” continued Mr. Capon, “has outlined the position from the beginning and we all have to agree that the efforts made so far have certainly justified themselves and while the numbers meeting morning by morning in the Y.M.C.A. have not been exceptionally large, still there has been a good nucleus there and we can expect that when the weather becomes colder the numbers will increase.

Varied Mornings

“At the next meeting of the Committee the matter will be discussed and arrangements made in order to make one or two mornings a little varied in character and by that means bring others into the Y.M.C.A.

“We are very grateful for the response to the invitations sent to attend this meeting, and it is only indicative of Rushden people, who, no matter what the appeal, are always ready to rally for the particular object in hand.

“We are here to plan a campaign and there are two courses open to us, one, by private subscriptions, which need not detain us to-night, and secondly efforts by various organisations. We each represent a different organisation and the wider the appeal the greater the interest in the work – there is no hard and fast line we need to adopt.”

Suggestions from the meeting were then invited by the chairman.

The Rev. P. Barwell Spriggs, Vicar of St. Peter’s Church, said: “I can only say that so far as St. Peter’s Church is concerned we shall be pleased to do anything we can to forward the efforts of the Social Service Committee. The St. Peter’s Young People’s Social Club could do nothing much finer nor more helpful than organise some effort for the Committee, and I can put that before them with the assurance that they will respond quickly.

Church Collections

“So far as church collections are concerned, those who attend church or chapel know they are not so big as we would like – as the parson said on looking at the collection, ‘Alexander, the coppersmith, hath done me much evil.’

“However, I can promise one social event. In these days church people and religious people of all denominations are realising more and more rightly and properly, and in a way all overdue, the obligations of their membership of Christ’s Church.”

Mr. F. Noble, secretary to the Unemployed Association, said it might be asked what the unemployed themselves were willing to do. He would like to say that the two efforts reported by the secretary were organised by the unemployed. “It is not often I visit a boxing booth,” said Mr. Noble, “but I did to make that collection. In anything that crops up we shall do our bit.”

Mr. Prior, for the Windmill Club, said they were awaiting a report from this meeting, but the committee generally took a very sympathetic view and probably an event would be organised in the near future.

On behalf of the Catholic Church Father Nutt promised support, though they could not promise much, he said, being only a small body. They were, however, very successful with whist drives, and would place the room at their disposal any time it was required.

Other Offers

The Rev. C. J. Keeler, of the High-street Independent Wesleyan Church, said they had not discussed the matter yet, but the young people would no doubt arrange a social gathering.

A representative of the Rushden Town Football Club said the club would do all they possibly could.

The Rev. T. W. Gill (Park-road Baptist Church), said he thought they could take it that the Rev. Spriggs and Father Nutt had spoken on behalf of all the churches who would give all the support they could.

Mr. Page, representing the Rushden Temperance Band, said they were themselves feeling acutely the effects of unemployment but they would do their best and the services of the band would be at the Committee’s disposal at any time.

Having remarked that the majority of the members of the Jazz Band were associated with the “Temps,” Mr. Page said there were only two collectors on the Saturday evening of their performance. He thought they should have had considerably more.

Mr. Noble: There were more than two; eight Salvation Army ladies helped.

Mr. Page volunteered to act as a collector at any time.

Mr. Noble: I will see you have the opportunity.

Winter Programmes

A lady representative of the Fitzwilliam-street Methodist Church said that although they were only a poor church, they would be willing to do all they possibly could.

The chairman said that perhaps some of the representatives had not had the opportunity of meeting their committees, but the Social Service Committee wanted them to bring it before their various organisations. These were now arranging their winter programmes and Mr. Roe said he would like them all to include at least one event on behalf of their funds.

It had been suggested, he added, that they might organise a big concert for the town, but that would be for the Committee to arrange.

The Rev. W. R. Leaton said he hoped that any organisations who had not been invited to be represented at the meeting would realise the Committee would be glad of their help and hoped they would be ready to take part in any effort.

The chairman said it was possible that a public subscription list might be opened.

The Rev. Travers S Stoney, Rector of St. Mary’s Church, asked “How much will it cost during the winter for this room we have?”

Mr. Capon: That is rather difficult to answer, but certain charges will accrue week by week and we estimate these at about £2 per week, which includes the cost of papers, etc.”

Technical School

Mr. Leaton: The Rector and I are awaiting an opportunity to meet a representative group of unemployed and when we have ascertained what is in their minds we can go ahead. There is the question of allotments and handicrafts, because we want to give the men an opportunity of using their hands as well as their time. The rest room is not the end, it is only the beginning.

Mr. Leaton said he had received from Mr. Holland a letter in which there were details as to the conditions under which the Technical School would be opened in the day time.

“Mr. Horrell and Mr. Sharwood,” he said, “have been in touch with the Education Committee on this matter to try to obtain some workshop where the men could repair shoes, and possibly make them, for themselves and their families. As a result of Mr. Horrell’s and Mr. Sharwood’s enquiries it is possible we may be able to go very much farther with that than we intended at first. That will involve, of course, fair expense.

Mr. Roe: That will depend on the result of the appeal for funds?

Mr. Leaton: Yes.

Father Nutt suggested that a timetable of the efforts of the various organisations should be arranged so that events did not come too frequently and all could take part in turn, each being responsible for a certain night.

The chairman said he thought it was a very good suggestion.

Mr. G. W. Coles, J.P., said he would like to raise a point that had not been mentioned so far.

“I am fully in favour of all that has been said up to the present,” he said, “but I think something definite should be said at this meeting, fully representative of the whole town, as to whether this Committee is empowered to make grants in kind to hard cases. I think that will have a great effect upon the response made to the appeal.

“Supposing an unemployed man who was receiving transitional benefit were given a grant from this organisation, would that be taken into consideration by the Transitional Committee. I think we want the position to be quite clear and plain and we do not want to mislead the unemployed as to what the Committee are going to do.

“I should like an expression as to how far we can go providing funds will allow.”

Mr. Leaton: When the question of the relation between the Social Service Committee and the Unemployed Association were arranged it was agreed that one of the duties of the Association would be to make a record of all cases of transitional benefit, investigate, and report to the Social Service Committee cases of hardship. Three sub-committees have been formed – Finance, Social Service, and Personal Help Committee – and so far we have had no cases whatever. That is one reason why we want to get in touch with the men themselves.

Legion’s Offer

Invited by Mr. Leaton to express an opinion on Mr. Coles’s second point, Ald. C. W. Horrell said they had not considered the matter from that point of view.

Mr. Roe said he thought any monetary help would be taken into consideration.

Mr. Coles: I was thinking more of grants in kind.

Mr. Leaton said any indirect help, such as that given at the Technical School would not be taken into consideration, and he thought that would apply to grants in kind.

The Rector said everything depended on the amount of money that came in. Expenses must be met first and to dispense grants of money was a difficult matter.

Mr. E. E. Bennett: If any hard cases happen to be ex-Servicemen we will take them over.

Mr. Prior, chairman of the Unemployed Association, said they could make grants in kind to hard cases, and Mr. Noble said that one such case was now under consideration.

Letters to The Press

Mr. Fletcher asked if any reply was to be made to the attacks contained in a letter to the newspapers.

The chairman: I don’t think they are worthy of reply.

Mr. Noble: I think it is well to ignore them entirely.

Mr. Prior: I thought it one of the most abusive letters I have ever read, and I do deplore the remarks; they are very uncalled for. In my opinion if they are not out to help they should not hinder.

Several people, added Mr. Prior, had asked him if the writer of the letter had anything to do with the Unemployed Association, adding that if he was going to be a member of the committee they must disassociate themselves from the organisation.

The Rev. W. R. Leaton: “I think we have a very fine antidote tonight to that correspondence.

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