From the Evening Despatch (Birmingham), 12th October 2015.
COMFORTS FOR SOLDIERS.
New Scheme to Prevent Overlapping.
Much satisfaction is expressed in voluntary circles at the co-ordination which is now to take place under Sir Edward Ward of the organisations throughout the country engaged in providing comforts for soldiers.
One point that is not clear from the official statement, published yesterday, is whether the new scheme is the beginning of a wider plan to embrace all voluntary effort in connection with the war. Apart from the suggestion made in the comprehensive title conferred on Sir Edward, there is no indication in the Army Council memorandum that anything but comforts are to be dealt with, and comforts for sailors are not mentioned.
Discussing the wider subject of war relief agencies with a "Despatch" representative, Mr. W. N. Hartley, who has had twenty years' experience of voluntary work as an official of the Charity Organisation Society, pointed to the chaos which has resulted from the duplicating of effort. “The original plan for dealing with the distress which might arise from the war,” he said, “was excellent.” Relief was to be carried out on a civic basis, the local authorities were to be made responsible, and nothing was to be left to chance. The scheme, however, soon broke down, and instead of one appeal for all purposes, as was intended, there came gradually an endless number of movements and funds; for all kinds of praiseworthy objects.
“Appeals to the public are made simultaneously on behalf of soldiers and sailors on service abroad, soldiers and sailors on service at home, soldiers and sailors wounded and ill abroad, soldiers and sailors prisoners of war, soldiers and sailors discharged unfit, dependents of all these, professional men in distress owing to the war, other civilians in distress owing to the war, refugees and aliens, our Allies, and animals.
“There would not be such confusion if each branch were dealt with definitely by one fund or movement, but sectional appeals compete with one another with differences in object so subtle as not to be apparent to the ordinary mind. There were three funds for Poland and two rival French flag days; how many Belgian funds, I do not know; and horses in war are cared for by three separate funds, which might well be amalgamated.”