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Why did poverty come to the public's attention at the turn of the century?

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Introduction

Why did poverty come to the public's attention at the turn of the century? Poverty came to the public's attention at the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth centuries, partly because of surveys and investigations run by individuals and organisations, and partly because of the charity work done by men and women who were concerned about the condition of the poor. The Salvation Army Many Christian groups ran missions in the inner cities where they preached the word of God, hoping to turn prostitutes and petty criminals away from 'sin', sometimes offering food. William and Catherine Booth went one step further and instead of waiting for the poor to come to them at their mission in East London, they went to the poor wherever they could find them. Their East London mission expanded until, in 1878, it had around 45 branches and was called the Salvation Army. Organised rather like an army, with William Booth as the 'general' and full-time workers called majors and captains, the Salvation Army used attention-grabbing techniques, like smart uniforms and brass bands, to attract the crowds and bring in the money. ...read more.

Middle

By this, he meant that they did not have the money to buy enough food, shelter and clothing. By this, he meant that they did not have the money to buy enough food, shelter and clothing. He divided the poor into four groups: * Class A: The lowest Class: Street sellers, criminals, loafers. Their life is the life of savages with extreme hardship. 11,000 or 1.25% of the poor. * Class B: Casual earnings: widows and deserted women; part-time labourers; many shiftless and helpless. 110,000 or 11.25% of the poor. * Class C: Occasional earnings: hit by trade depressions. 75,000 or 8% of the poor. * Class D: Low wages: less than 21 shillings a week; wages barely enough to stay alive. Includes dock labourers and gas workers. 129,000 or 14.5% of the poor. Perhaps more importantly, Booth worked out that 85 per cent of people living in poverty were poor because of problems relating to unemployment and low wages. ...read more.

Conclusion

Some of these people, like the young MP Winston Churchill, would soon be in a position to do something about the grinding poverty in which millions lived. * In 1899, the British army began fighting the Boer settlers in South Africa. Young men volunteered to fight and in their thousands they were rejected as unfit. In some industrial areas of Britain, as many as two out of three volunteers were turned down because they failed the army medical examination. This was worrying enough in itself, but there were wider implications. The economies of countries such as Germany and the USA were highly successful because of the skills and hard work of their workforces. It looked as if the British workforce hadn't got the strength or the stamina to compete. * In 1900, all the socialist groups in Britain came together and formed the Labour Party. This new political party pledged to get better living and working conditions for working people as well as a fairer distribution of the country's wealth. The Liberal Party was afraid that the Labour Party would take members and votes from them. ...read more.

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