23 FEBRUARY 1940, Page 21


Sin,—A matter which seems to me to call for speedy action has come to light in the course of social case-work in an " evacuated " district From inquiries I have made from a voluntary society to whom I appealed for financial help I have found that the father of " evacuated " children who is himself on active service is not allowed a free pass to visit his children in the reception area. For himself he must find half the usual fare and for his wife the ordinary fare. In addition, unless he is content to spend only a few hours of his ten days' leave with his children, he must bear the cost of accommodation, the expense of which would be greater than his living cost at home. Alternatively, he can bring his children home—un- desirable from the Government's point of view—and again an expensive undertaking, especially if they are too young to travel alone. It would seem reasonable to expect the War Office to grant a free pass for the man and for the evacuation authorities to set up some machinery for providing a free pass for his wife in cases of hardship. I understand from the society in question that the War Office consider that the man should be able to pay his half fare out of savings from his pay, and that in these circumstances applications for help from voluntary funds must be refused because of the number of applications which would flood in.

The particular case on which inquiries were made is a very hard one, since the mother is ill and the two boys in the reception area are a long distance from home and are too young to travel alone. Her separation allowance, which until her illness she had been supplementing by working, covers rent, insurance and hire-purchase commitments undertaken in pre- war days, and leaves her a balance of 15s. 9d. per week to buy fuel, pay for lighting and keep herself and a two-year-old son and clothe two boys away from home. It is, I think, fairly obvious that with the present cost of living she would indeed be a marvellous housewife to save a fare of 24s. and help pay for accommodation for herself and her youngest boy, even supposing that her husband's leave allowance of ki covered his expenses away.

This case, although differing in particulars, is no exception in a district which is wholly populated by a wage-earning community, hard hit by unemployment among casual dock labourers and building operatives. The problem must become more acute as more and more men leave this country for service abroad. It cannot be solved by the goodwill of private persons, even if it were decent so to handicap men on leave. I should be grateful therefore for the hospitality of your columns to ventilate a matter of more than local interest.—Yours faith- fully, (Miss) H. M. CLAPPERTON, Hon. Sec., the Nelson School C.C. District Care Organiser's Office, Townsend Street School, S.E. 17.