The Daily Herald published the effects of economic depression in the 1930s
While our politicians, papers and commentators fall on either side of the food bank debate, we look back at poverty and charitable welfare in the 1930s.
In this new age of austerity the news is increasingly full of increasingly vitriolic debate about welfare and food banks. Run by charities and local groups, these give short term emergency supplies to families with little or no money.
In the 1930s the Daily Herald newspaper took a keen interest in poverty, and how the economic depression affected both the working and the unemployed.
Staff photographers were dispatched to photograph charity in action—at mobile cafés, soup kitchens and food dispersal centres. They also photographed the effects of poverty—repossession of goods, substandard housing, and scavenging for coal.
Around the same time George Orwell described his journey into poverty in Down and Out in Paris and London. At the end of his book, knowing that he would soon rejoin the ranks of the relatively comfortable he concluded:
At present I do not feel that I have seen more than the fringe of poverty. Still, I can point to one or two things I have definitely learned by being hard up. I shall never again think that all tramps are drunken scoundrels, nor expect a beggar to be grateful when I give him a penny, nor be surprised if men out of work lack energy, nor subscribe to the Salvation Army, nor pawn my clothes, nor refuse a handbill, nor enjoy a meal at a smart restaurant. That is a beginning.