WIGAN " HOUSE OF HOSPITALITY" Opening by Archbishop of Liverpool To-day
To-day (Friday) the Archbishop of Liverpool will open the House of Hospitality in Wigan. A civic reception is being accorded His Grace, and a guard of members of the C.Y.M.S. will escort him to St. John's Hall for a preliminary meeting, after which he will proceed to the house to bless and open it officially.
Local unemployed men have worked for several weeks making the premises ready for occupation. They consist of seven rooms and a shop (which will be used for the sale of Catholic social literature and for propaganda purposes.) The operating staff will consist of Mr. R. P. Walsh, editor of the Catholic Worker, Mrs. Walsh. and Miss Wail, assistant-editor of the Catholic Worker.
Our representative describes the work that this. institution will do in the following words: In very many ways the worker to-day is exposed to materialising influence. In every town, and throughout the distressed areas, powers are at work that have one immediate aim, that of hardening men's hearts against religion. Wigan is a Lancashire town with about 10,000 unemployed. It has a town council that is on the whole alive and energetic. What can be done to make the town a place worth living in is being done. Yet owing to the small return from rates it is impossible to do much. The two main industries are mining and cotton. Many pits will never open again and in the mill girls of adult age, many married, are earning wages that are ex tremely low.
It is true that cost of living is cheap compared with London, but for the average man out of work the task is not that of living but of existing—without anything to look forward to.
Side by side with the poverty and unemployment, exists various materialistic influences. Probably few citizens of Wigan are convinced Communists but many, even Catholics, support the Communist Party. The need of the unemployed man for advice about his position and for representation before Boards and Committees is a real need and it is mainly met by the Communist controlled National Unemployed Workers' Movement.
It is in this place that an experiment is being tried that may revolutionise the social movement in this country. A centre is being opened known as a House of Hospitality. This will serve as a Catholic Social Action centre for Wigan and its neighbourhood and later it is hoped similar Houses will open elsewhere.
The purpose of the House is to form a Christian social conscience in Wigan. The main means to this end are educational. Classes and circles will not remain inclusive activities, efforts will be made to meet every need that arises. One need felt immediately is a service for the unemployed. An organisation of unemployed men and women is being formed that will train representatives to accompany claimants when going before such bodies as the Court of Referees. The task of these representatives will be to prepare the claimant's case, to investigate any claims of injustice in treatment received by the P.A.C. and the U.A.B.
There is every prospect that the House will offer a more efficient service than the Communist organisation. Great interest is being shown in this side of the work by prominent men concerned with the administration of these services. These are willing to render what assistance they can and they will be very helpful in securing justice.
But the main work will be the promotion of parish study circles for a preliminary study of Catholic social teaching followed by central classes in particular aspects which will be held at the House.
This is the important side of the work, for before English Catholics can hope to affect their environment they must know the teaching of their Faith.
An open invitation is extended to any Catholic Herald reader to visit 16, Darlington Street and see what is being done. Any assistance either in the form of money or clothes, books, etc., will be welcomed by the staff. A library mainly of Catholic social literature is being formed that will be open to the public.