'THE fact that people in need of material help are turning more and more to the local authority or the Ministry of Social Security rather than to the Church since the Welfare State became established is welcomed in the annual report of the Lancaster Diocesan Protection and Rescue Society.
"Far from being distressed by the change we welcome it," says the report. "It is merely the latest repetition of the role historically played by the State in the development of social services whereby it has taken over and financed from public funds something which for many years had been done voluntarily by the Churches and philanthropic bodies.
"Teaching and nursing flourish, today because they were pioneered in a different age by people who loved their fellow men. Our concern is that a man —or his family—who needs help should be given it by somebody. Where the help comes from is not the primary consideration provided that in seeking it or receiving it the man suffers no loss of selfrespect. "We welcome the recognition 'by the State of the dignity of the individual and of its duty to provide for those members of the family of the State who cannot stand up unaided to the stress of modern industrial living or who are unable to exercise adequately their God-given talents.
"Help which is designed to give a man back his self-respect benefits not only that man and his immediate family but the community of which they are a part. This kind of help is help indeed.
"The more healthy the cornmunity the more likely is it to generate in its members the spirit of that Good Samaritan who went so readily to the assistance of his neighbour. Whatever the merits of the systern, however: few people would claim that it iS perfect . .
"We have always tried to make it clear that we do not maintain our organisation for any purposes of prestige. We have never professed to seek to compete with the statutory bodies. Our aim has been to supply where, practicable and reasonable for deficiencies in the State service and to help the statutory bodies to do the work for which they were brought into existence by Act of Parliament.
"It has never been our aim to provide an alternative service. We consider that it would be wrong of us to beg from our people who have so many other calls on their generosity money to do a work which is already provided for from public funds."
The report says that the society's chief activities at the moment are in spheres where the State, through the local authorities, has as yet accepted little responsibility. This was in work for the unsupported mother and more especially for the unmarried mother and in consequence for her child. This often led to arrangements for the legal adoption of the child.
"The pattern of our work for the unmarried mother is changing," the report says. "Increasingly she is having her baby in the local hospital and no longer in our maternity home. It is now exceptional for an unmarried mother to seek from us a place in a mother and baby home.
"One consequence of this is that many such mothers ask us to take their child from them immediately or very soon after birth. Generally speaking we are not prepared to do this nor to place the child with its adoptive parents until it has reached the age of six weeks, when the mother can legally give consent.
"An argument sometimes adduced against this policy by a mother—more often perhaps by her own mother—is that if she has to take care of her child even for a short time she will become so attached to it that she will find parting from it impossible."