27 SEPTEMBER 1930, Page 21

What Social Work Is

Concerning the Blind. By J. M. Ritchie. (Oliver and Boyd. 7s. 6d.) THE proverbial platitude that one half of the world does not know how the other half lives is possibly even more true to-day than at any previous period. The activities of the State and of voluntary organizations in social work are so many, and their inter-relation is so complex that the ordinary citizen has very little idea of what is being done. He is probably vaguely aware that quite a lot is being done, and is not much inclined to trouble himself about the questions of how, why and what it is, because he knows that to discover this for himself would take an amount of study and research work for which he has not the time. He is apt to assume that everything necessary is already being done, and therefore feels his responsibility the less.

Miss Hilda Jennings has set out to remedy this ignorance with regard to one large sphere of social work carried out by the Children's Care Committees in London. These Com- mittees are largely concerned with doing fur the poor what Miss Jennings does for the reader. Their chief concern is to bring to the notice of those who can benefit by them the services to which they are entitled, either under State direction or front hospitals, and to induce them to make use of these services. Miss Jennings explains huw a voluntary society should have come to occupy this intimate relation with the authorities and the advantages which such a system gives, i.e., the " insistence on the paramount importance of personality," on the side both of the helper and of the helped, The history of the relationship is well told, and Miss Jennings' book should do much to bring home to the general reader the importance and value of both private and public social service. It should, if possible, be read in conjunction with Miss Gibberd's book. This is " an account of Herbert Richard Haynes, the average working man, and the social and industrial problems arising out of his life." Herbert Richard Haynes (are the initials a coincidence I) was born about thirty-five years ago. Miss Gibberd tells the story of his life, school days, War experience, married life, and fills in ninny of the gaps left by Miss Jennings' more specialized work. She recounts the difficulties which he has had to face, and his attempts to solve them, bringing him right down to the present day, when Mrs. Haynes has been advised by the doctor to give up going out to work, and Haynes is hesitating whether to put his son to the better-paid blind- alley job or to get hint employment at the Co-operative Stores, where he would be assured of a steady position later. Both these books have bibliographies which would be of value to any reader wishing to take up the study of social services, and Miss Gibberd's is somewhat wider, covering many other aspects of the life of a working man. Her book is perhaps the more readable of the two, and contains suggestions after each chapter for enquiry and discussion, and for visits to institutions which are carrying out the work she mentions.

Concerning the Blind deals with a separate branch of similar work. It is a historical sketch of the organized effort to help the blind, giving special attention to the work of teachers of the blind, and some analysis of methods, and of the advantages of the various kinds of type which have been used to enable the blind to read. It is certainly a book which should be added to the library of all engaged in this work, and concludes with some reflections on the mental life or the blind, which remove many of the mis- apprehensions of those who can see, and outlines roughly some of the conclusions of modern research. This book, and that by Miss Jennings, will both be of value to the active social worker, but Miss Gibberd's is more suited to the general reader.