HOMELESS families are
the most neglected and least protected members of society, the director of a housing association told priests of the Westminster Diocese on Tuesday.
When faced with illness or loss of money, "often the only solution offered is for the whole family to split up, sometimes for years or even permanently," said Miss Edith Urals, director of the Ladyeholme Association.
"The children may get sent to a home or foster parents; sometimes the mother is sent to one hostel and father to another. The unnatural state hits the meekest families hardest.
No voice of protest is raised
on their behalf, not even at election time. The homeless have no vote, they have no home. They are only found in statistics."
Speaking at the second of three conferences arranged to introduce priests to welfare problems, Miss Urch explained how her association, which operates at a loss, has provided temporary flats for some 4,000 men, women and children over the past 16 years. Its primary aim is to keep families together.
The most recent Home Office figures, she noted, account for 67.000 children "in care" of the State. However, most welfare workers reckoned there were twice as many in care of private charities.
"The children put into institutions sutler most of all," said Miss Urch. "Often they were originally unwanted. Now when left with strangers they feel and may in fact become abandoned or institutionalised, and some are deserted."
In Ladyeholm's four houses, families live in separate flats, each with their own keys. Most are very friendly with each other.
"A married woman, a little weary of drudgery, can see and learn to admire the effort of the brave woman with no man to support her in the next room.
he married woman thinks more of her husband and the unmarried mother gets a new insight on men and marriage."