Thursday, 5 February 2015

Distress In The Outer Isles.

From the Glasgow Herald, 4th February 1915.



The relief work organised in connection with the West Coast Mission of Scotland for the benefit of the fisher girls in the Outer Isles was described at the fifty-ninth annual meeting of the mission, held in the Christian Institute, Glasgow, yesterday. ...

The work carried on included mission work, district nursing, the distribution of Gospel literature and clothing.  It was mentioned that over 5000 men from the Outer Hebrides had responded to the nation's call and joined the Army or Navy since the war began.  The fishing industry was almost a failure up to the time of mobilisation, when nearly every able-bodied man left his work to serve in the Naval Reserve or the land forces.

A serious situation also resulted from the suspension of the fishing industry owing to the war. Several thousands of fisher girls from the Highlands and Islands are engaged in the shore work connected with the fishing industry.  These women enter into contracts with the owners, and leave their homes in March for the early fishing in the Minch and at Castlebay.  From June to August they work at Lerwick, Wick, Fraserburgh, Peterhead, and Aberdeen, and then proceed to Yarmouth and Lowestoft, where they remain until November.  They return home in December.  Owing to the war they had to return home almost penniless, some of their employers having become bankrupt.  Many of the aged parents were dependent upon the earnings of their daughters. The provision of relief to these people became an urgent necessity.  As no assistance was then procurable from any other source the mission had to provide temporary relief to meet the urgent cases of distress.  Through the kindness of friends the mission had distributed nearly 7000 cuts of wool, and it had been able to keep some of the girls employed in knitting socks, body-belts, helmets, etc.  These knitted articles were gifted to Scottish and Highland regiments of soldiers on active service, also to the Naval Reserve men.  The Stobhill Military Hospital and the Red Cross Society also got a share of the gifts.  In that work the good effect was thus of a two-fold nature – by helping needy families and providing comforts for the forces.  More of such relief work could be undertaken if there were funds at the disposal of the mission.

[Earlier mentions of schemes to provide knitting work for the fisher girls appear here and here

A cut was a quantity of yarn - according to an edition of Woolcraft published in the early 1920s, it was two skeins.]  

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