A HOUSE ASSISTANTS' CENTRE
• [To the Editor of the SPECTATOR.] Sin,—Ifaving followed with much interest the letters contri- buted to your columns by " Ann Pope," I write to say that if the project of the House AisiStants' Centre could be revived I should be most willing to help in carrying it forward. I have had long experience of the difficulties of catering, cleaning, and serving in households in varying circumstances, and know that the house assistant is a person to be very anxiously considered. Where she is efficient the family has good reason to rejoice— and to do it with trembling ; where she is inefficient they have every right to complain. Only practical wearing of a yoke, however, can reveal to anyone why and where it chafes, and why it is unlikely that educated women and girls will take up service. under other women while the present system—or lack Of systeni—Lprevails. But experience also enables those who have it to see the more excellent way. The problem of domestic service iS not going to be solved by 'conferences, however inie- resthie these-may -be-; the House -AsEistants' -Centre Scheme
does, however, offer a reasonable means of reaching a much- to-be-desired end.
It would pay agroup of housewives to start and support such a Centre by forming an association among themselves and taking the initiative. It would be a more creditable thing for enterprising women than to complain of the inability of registry offices to meet their insistent and repeated demands. May I, therefore, place the following suggestion before your readers, many of whom have doubtless been as interested in Ann Pope's letters as I have ?
A house is now vacant close to Regent's. Park which offers ample accommodation for a practising kitchen, with scullery and offices, a students' sitting-room (or stillroom for storage of home-made produce) ; it has large upper rooms, and its two topmost floors could be let off as service flats, the rents from which would help to defray cost of maintenance. There is a pleasant garden and separate kitchen entrance. Only interior redecoration is required, the house otherwise being in perfect condition. The lease is twenty-eight years.
A housewives' association might acquire this property by purchase or rental and start a Centre. Members' subscriptions should entitle them to being " suited " with an assistant free of further charge, while the association would be entitled to levy a percentage on wages received for the first year to repay the cost of training. Other sources of income for the main- tenance of the Centre would be rents from the service flats (or rooms, if divided) and from the sale of home-made produce such as bottled fruits, jams, pickles, cakes and cooked dishes. -
One such Centre established would lead to the founding of more, and in course of time the present system—or lack of it —would disappear. Many educated girls prefer the variety of tasks which housework offers to the monotonous routine work of the office ; many girls have it in them to rise to influential positions if given a start and the right equipment ; responsible posts such as those of the chef and the hotel or club-manager could be filled by women as well as by men ; above all, the position of wife and mistress of a household needs training and knowledge to fill it well.
I beg leave to submit this practical proposition, and wait to hear if other interested readers of the Spectator will take it up.—I am, Sir, &c., THE AUTHOR OF "NEW DAYS, NEW WAYS."