|PH.4.2.21 Boys on Step|
This was also a period before laws came in safeguarding working conditions for children. It was not unusual for children as young as 7 to be found down the coal mines, in the pitch blackness for 14 hours a day, or at the extreme opposite hoisted up the chimneys to sweep away the soot. Children were cheap to employ and small enough to fit in spaces which adults couldn’t reach. With no welfare system in place many families had no choice but to rely on wages brought in by their children. Others shamelessly sent their child onto the cold, dangerous streets to beg for a penny or hawk wares.
For the middle and upper classes it was a time of increased wealth and a chance to improve their social status. Many were taught that conditions for the poor and ill were hardships brought on by themselves, creating a mentality that the poor were undeserving and did not need to be helped. This, by power of association, also applied to their children.
Together Trust founders
Some however, recognised the need to help those not as fortunate as themselves. Readers to this blog will know by now the circumstances surrounding the founding of this charity. And as we scraped the ice off the cars this morning, on the way to our warm offices, it made us appreciate that there were such people to aid our ancestors 147 years ago shivering outside in the same conditions. We have reached a great age and yet we still go on to support those today who may need our services. We hope we do our predecessors proud.