In response to Cardinal Hinsley's appeal to Catholics to offer help and hospitality to Londoners who have suffered from air-raids, a number of offers have already reached the Sword of the Spirit. Associated with the Sword of the Spirit in this work are the Catholic Women's League, the Grail, the Legion of Mary and the Union of Catholic Mothers.
The East End of London is suffering very severely. In such districts as Poplar, Stepney, Aidgate, dumps of wood and stones on the side of the road indicate that here was a house. In many side-streets a whole row of houses has been burnt down: a stray mattress, an open grate, lie aimlessly among the wreckage. Each time this happens, hundreds are made homeless.
On the night before my latest visit, a tenement house holding 1,000 people had been bombed. A woman with her two-yearold baby in one of the borough-councils had been bombed out of the house the pre From a Special Correspondent vious night: her other three children were in the public shelter. She was tired and unwashed and anxious. She was only one of the hundreds who crowd into the town and borough councils at every time of day and night, including Sundays.
PEOPLE WHO MUST GET OUT OF LONDON
Then there are the old people. In West Ham, for instance, 200, in Poplar 300, and so on, are asking to go away. Many are unable to go to public shelters.
Under the official Billeting Scheme, mothers with small children are evacuated if homes can he found for them. Transport is free. The billeting allowance is 5s. for the mother and 3s for cash child—this is paid by the local authorities in the relevant reception arca. When food has to he provided as well, the local Assistance Board makes up the sum to approximately 10s. for the mother and 5s. for each child.
Some 500 mothers with children in one district alone were waiting for homes last Sunday. Meanwhile they are put up in
schools and halls: in several cases these places of shelter have been bombed on the following night.
There is no Government scheme for the old people. But the local authorities can arrange transport, and the old people usually have an old-age pension which helps to feed them. They do not need to go to the country : houses with basements or nearby shelters are all that is wanted.
School-children are already adequately provided for. So the need is for hospitality for mothers with young children, and for old people.
By obtaining the co-operation of the local parish priests, the Sword of the Spirit hopes to be able to arrange for Catholics to be sent to Catholic homes. In view of the urgency of the need, however, such arrangements may not always he practical, but we feel sure that Catholics would not wish to restrict their hospitality to Catholics.
Communications should be sent to The Hon. Secretary, Sword of the Spirit, 108, Gloucester Place, W.1. Telephone: Welbeck 7595.