Letters to the Editor
[In view of the length of many of the letters which we receive, we would remind correspondents that we often cannot give space for long letters and that short ones are generally read with more attention. The length which we consider most suitable is about that of one of our paragraphs on " News of the Week."—Ed. SPECTATOR.]
BRYNMAWR THANKS "SPECTATOR " READERS
[To the Editor of the SrucrA7on.] you please convey to the readers of the Spectator the deep gratitude both of our own group and of the towns- people of Brynmawr for their warm and generous response to your appeal for the work here ? Though in some ways a few years spent in a town which is almost totally unemployed tends to make one accustomed to such a situation, in others it only intensifies one's feelings till one is almost sick to the very soul. The denial of what surely is one of the fundamental rights of man, the right to work, is disastrous in its con- sequences. In facing this problem of unemployment there are two dangers to be avoided ; the first is that of sentimental- ity, the second a feeling of hopelessness, a feeling that the problem is too big to tackle. We are trying to avoid both of these in Brynmawr ; we are facing the facts and we are trying to work out our own salvation.
Your readers may perhaps be interested to hear of the latest development. The Survey of the history, background, and present position of this mining community on which some one hundred and thirty of us, all citizens of Brynmawr, have been engaged for over eighteen months is now nearly complete ; the new industries which have been started have solved most of their problems and should before long be on their feet ; the pioneer work of some fifty of the unemployed in giving their services, in the face of much opposition from some quarters, in the task of beautifying and clearing up the town, is at last bearing fruit, so that we are now in a position to take a definite step forward.
The Community Study Council has decided that the time has come to prepare a definite plan for a period of years. This is our problem :
We know accurately the present number of unemployed in their age groups ; we know also year by year for the next nine years the number of children who would in the ordinary way be increasing this pool ; we know the number that will be going out of it annually into the old age pension group ; we can form a fairly accurate estimate based on past figures of the numbers likely to migrate. In short, we can tabulate the number of unemployed there will be each year for the next eight or nine years in their different age groups.
This is our attempt to solve it :
The Industries will have to plan developments large enough to absorb all those who can be absorbed, which will be mainly in the younger age groups ; further avenues for fresh work will once again have to be sought for. The careful plans worked out in conjunction with the Department of Agricultural Economies of Aberystwyth University and the staff of the Ministry of Agriculture last year, in anticipation of the passing of the Land Utilization Bill, will have to be revised so that all suitable men may be given the opportunity of getting on to the land ; the experience gained in allotment work and the keeping of poultry under the schemes in exist- ence have already been the means of discovering many of these.
It should therefore be possible to plan year by year how many men these various developments will absorb, till every- thing has been done. In the meantime the development of the voluntary work should find an outlet for creative activity for those still unabsorbed. Finally, a small number will be left in the older age groups who can never again find occupation in paid work ; how arc they to be given the opportunity for a full life ?- The outlet for the creative side can be found in suitable voluntary work, the most difficult problem of all being left, how to raise the standard of material existence for these men who show that they want to work but to whom the opportunity is being denied ? A committee is at work on the details of this plan which should be finished in about two months.
We feel that the real value of this experiment is not in the fact that if it succeeds one place may be saved, good though
this may be, but that it may be an example of self help which other places may follow. From experience we know that continual persistence is needed, difficulties which seem endless must be faced. Outside encouragement is a tremendous help, that is why the assistance of the Spectator has meant so much to us.
Some of the unemployed men who have been working for twelve months or over, have worn out their boots and clothes which we have never before been able to replace. To-day, through the generosity of your readers boots have been ordered. The children of Brynmawr can this winter be certain of being dry shod for the same reason, and we believe and hope that the much larger sum finally needed to place the industries on their feet, which is perhaps the most import- ant thing of all, will also be forthcoming.—I am, Sir, &c., PETER SCOTT. Service Centre, Alma Street, Brynnievor, S. Wales.
[We hope every reader of the Spectator will read this letter from Mr. Peter Scott, to whose selfless and practical idealism Brynmawr owes so much.—En. Spectator.]