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The Objects of the Society - Working Members - Honorary Members - How Ladies May Obtain Remunerative Needlework - Those who Benefit by the Society
Objects : (1) To provide useful garments for ladies in reduced circumstances.
(2) To provide such ladies with remunera-tive needlework.
(3) To supply customers with underclothing made well and under good conditions.
Working members contribute is. and two new garments annually. They also have the privilege of recommending a lady in needy circumstances - known personally to themselves - for a gift of clothing once a year. Honorary members subscribe 2S. 6d. annually, but provide no garments. By paying an extra 5s. a year they also can nominate ladies to receive clothing, but the same lady may not be nominated two years running.
Subscribers may also nominate ladies wishing to obtain remunerative needlework. These are required to send a specimen of their work, and, if it proves satisfactory, their names are put on a list, kept by the society, of skilled workers, and they are allowed to exhibit at a large sale which is held yearly in the autumn. A small commission of 1/2d. in the shilling is charged for work sold. Apart from the sale, work is disposed of at the office all the year round, orders being received for trousseaux and layettes as well as for single garments. These are only given to skilled workers, so those who entrust the "Ladies' Chain" with their orders have not only the satisfaction of helping really deserving workers, and of knowing that the work is not sweated, but in addition to this they receive excellent value for their money.
The gifts of clothing are sent out before Christmas, each nominee receiving, as a rule, five garments. The parcels are usually sent to mothers of large families, who often struggle so valiantly to provide for their children while they go without really necessary garments themselves. A curate's wife wrote on receiving a parcel from the "Ladies' Chain" : "I cannot thank you sufficiently for all you have sent me; it was such a surprise. Who can have told you about me ? The garments being ready to put on is such a boon when one has little time to work for oneself, and I must add the beautiful work that had been put into them makes the pleasure double."
Young governesses are also made happy with gifts. The salaries they earn are often too small to enable them to keep up the appearance really necessary for their position, and frequently they have to give up buying books, the study of which would make them more proficient in their work, because their employer hints that a shabby hat or coat should be replaced.
One governess in receipt of a very small salary wrote : "I cannot tell you what a help your useful present is to me, but think it will please you to learn that it has been the means of my starting a little account in the savings bank in case of illness or the proverbial rainy day."
Invitations constantly have to be refused by those who stand in great need of a holiday because they have " no clothes to go in." This requirement also is met by the " Ladies' Chain," letters such as the following being received from time to time : "I have been invited away for Christmas, but felt I could not go as my clothes were really too shabby, when your parcel arrived with exactly the very garments that I needed to renovate my wardrobe."
Poor old ladies no longer able to earn their living, and sometimes invalided and unable even to mend their own clothes, are amongst the grateful recipients of Christmas parcels. Some of these known to the hon. secretary have incomes so painfully limited that it is almost an impossibility for them to provide the necessities, much less the comforts, which their broken health and advanced age so urgently require.
This department of the society, which provides work for reliable workers, is an inestimable boon to many who, while able to execute most beautiful work do not know how to find a market for it. The woman who has " seen better days " is often practically friendless, as she is unable, owing to her poverty, to keep up with former acquaintances, and so has little opportunity of making her wares known.
It is impossible to realise the relief which is experienced when it is known that a steady stream of work may be expected and will be accompanied by punctual payment.
The Sale of Underclothing and Fancy Articles
If the second object of the society is to be adequately fulfilled, it is necessary that a large number of orders should be received, and it is perhaps in this direction more than in any other that there is the greatest need of further development. The expense of advertisement precludes its use by the society, who have to depend chiefly on purchasers making known to their friends the advantages of buying from this source.
Dainty white underlinen or more substantial underwear are equally well-made, also children's clothing, and a large number of inexpensive and novel fancy articles suitable for presents or bazaars can always be obtained.
Further particulars may be obtained from Miss Richardson, 210A, Ladbroke Grove, North Kensington, W.