Catalogue ReferenceR/AS3
TitleReading Distress Committee
DescriptionThe Reading Distress Committee was founded on 5 October 1905, under the Unemployed Workmen Act of 11 August 1905. As part of this act, a Distress Committee was to be formed in London and in towns of a population of over 50,000 people. There were guidelines for the appointment of appropriate members to the Committee, and in Reading there were twelve members of Reading Borough Council appointed, along with eight Guardians of the Poor of Reading Union, and five who had 'experience in the relief of distress', at least one of which must be a woman. Every year the members of the committee were appointed by Reading Borough Council; sometimes previous committee members stayed in the committee and sometimes new members were appointed. The distress committee would help men who could not find work, and 'if the distress committee are satisfied that any such applicant is honestly desirous of obtaining work, but is temporarily unable to do so from exceptional causes over which he has no control', the committee would help find him temporary work or find the means to help the family migrate to an area where he could find work. The applicant could not have a criminal record, and could not have benefitted from the Poor Law, or he would not be considered. The records of the Reading Distress Committee show men of all ages and backgrounds applying: some had large families, some were single men supporting parents, and some had had to leave their previous employment because of lack of work. It seems that the Committee also interviewed their family members to get a clear picture of their situation. Some men are said to have 'good character', but some are deemed 'lazy' and undeserving of a job. The end if the form shows the outcome: some men seemed to find work quickly, others were not, and some men emigrated abroad, for example, to Canada, to try and find work. There are records only until 1920, but the committee continued after this date.
RepositoryBerkshire Record Office (code: GB 005)
Extent15 vols, 14 bdls
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