Working Lives

In the Forefront of Children’s Care since World War II

Location: London, Essex, Suffolk

You said you were in the WRNS and when you came out you were offered an opportunity to do some training, some further education. Can you tell me about that?

Well, to my great surprise on my discharge rounds – you go to the Education Officer and other people to be ticked off, to be discharged – she said to me, “D., you need to complete your education now, your education was interrupted by coming into the Service when you were 18 and you now need to go and complete it.” I had never thought of the idea of going to University, it was a complete accidental chance factor, and I thought, what a good idea, and I got a place at Bedford College for Ladies in London University – Barbara Wootton as my tutor – to undertake the social work training at that time, which was available to us because, of course, we were coming out of this horrible war in order to make a much better peace and a much better world. All the great aspirations. We had all the new social legislation and Barbara Wootton was very central to the making of some of that social policy at the time and was an excellent tutor and teacher, she had a terrific ability to critically analyze social work and social policy and was a great contributor.

Post War children’s care – the residential home

I started off hoping – one of the new Acts we had was the Children’s Act – to get into the Children’s service; having been an evacuee myself and brought up in East London, remembering the Depression and knowing how much the War and poverty had affected the many people that I knew and lived with up to that time. So I was looking forward to becoming a childcare officer, which I did manage to get an appointment as, in East London where I originated from, in 1950 when the service belatedly started in London. Of course we had a huge backlog of work arising from the war and evacuation and the bombing, but the services were very scattered, totally disorganized.

So my first case load, as it was called, was received from different people – with a few people coming from the Welfare department, run by the Poor Law Act and so on, and some educational work, children who had come into care through the educational system. And the person passing on to me gave me a list and said, “These are children in foster homes out in the Essex and Suffolk area.” Because we were working outside London to enable children to find homes, London being destroyed, and it being very difficult to find alternative bases for children in London. So I had a patch in East London and a geographical patch outside London. And she said, “Here are these two boys, they’re in a care home called St Charles School at Brentwood, and I go and see them from time to time.”

So I picked up this melee of children in different circumstances in care homes, in foster homes, in potential adoption homes, in nurseries and so on, around the Essex and Suffolk areas, and took time to go from one to the other to introduce myself. I found these two boys, one a black boy and one an English white boy, in this care home, aged about 11, 12, 13. I said to them both, “I’m your social worker and I’m coming to see you from time to time, like Miss So and So did, and I want to take you out to tea. But I’ll take you out individually.” So I did this and after two visits or three visits I started to realise I needed to find out more about the home environment or the school environment – this was a residential school provided by Catholic Christian Brothers. They never allowed me past the hall when I arrived to collect the boys, or see the boys who were in my charge. I found that rather strange. Then they found me a small room within the hall where I could interview and visit my protégés. I therefore asked the Christian Brother who had been my host, if I could learn more about the school and its work and how the system there was going, and he explained that they had a 120 boys living in, being educated in this school, this home, this residential school, and that there were no women in the school or home and the boys were fed collectively. I had heard quite a lot about this from the two witnesses that I had already got to know a little bit, discovered that the food was at a premium there and the way of dispensing it was incredibly primitive. And I was worried about the fact that the boys would immediately say to me in my little room where I was put, “Oh, you’ve got Brothers’ food!” meaning that there was a difference between the food they had and what the Brothers ate. So gradually I felt things happening in the school, the way they were being fed, or not fed …

Could you give an example of that?

Yes, well in the morning, they told me, breakfast was a bread roll, and they were each given a bread roll for breakfast, but there would always be about a dozen over – somebody would be sick and not there to have the roll – and so the Brothers would throw the rolls into air and all 120 of them would jump up to try and get a second bread roll. That would be their treat. They had a time out on a Saturday, they were allowed two hours to go down to the town, and spend their modest – I think it was 9d a week – pocket money. But of course if they misbehaved they didn’t go out, they were restricted not to go out, and I had heard from my two witness boys that one boy had never been out for nine months because he had lost his privilege of going out for two hours.

They didn’t have visitors to see them, and these two boys asked me absolutely basic questions. Did they have a birthday? Could I find the birthday for them? Did they have a mother? Could I find the mother for them? Did they have any brothers and sisters? And their life was at this level of not knowing, their identity was totally mysterious to them, not knowing who they were One of the two boys, D., I discovered after trying to track records – because records were all over London, in grave difficulty in different departments, and I didn’t manage to track these records – but I did manage to find information and I discovered that D. had two names and it wasn’t quite clear why he’d got two names but they were linked, something to do with his paternity, which of course wasn’t clear. But I did manage to find a route to discover who his mother was and eventually traced her to living in Somerset – in Devon – and she was prepared to see her son at his request. And an arrangement was made for me to see the boy off on the train and the social worker in Devon to meet him and take him to a secret place to meet his mother. When he got back and I met him back, he brought a tiny gift for me from the Devon pottery which I treasured for many many years. And he said, “Thank you for doing that for me. I never want to see her again.” And for her, it was an embarrassment to have a black son.

About the boys, you got as far as talking about going to see his mother. Would you say, they partly didn’t know their background because they were all in the same boat?

These two boys that I initially found as my protégés at St Charles School at Brentwood had no idea about their origins because the children in the home had come automatically through from a nursery, St Lazarus House, a Catholic nursery. When they got to the age of 10 or 11 they were all passed automatically through to the St Charles School. And there was no record of them coming from St Lazarus House, so there were no records the Brothers had about the children they were receiving. However, I started to be curious about the whole place and made more enquiries of the host Brother who let me in, and I asked him how many children there were there, how many boys? “And if you tell me you’ve got 120”, I said, “Could you tell me who is responsible for them coming to you, and paying for their care with you?” He said, “Yes, we’ve got three from Liverpool and four from Rochdale.” “That leaves 109, where are they from?” “They’re all from the London County Council.” Well, of course, the London County Council was paying for them, but none of the childcare staff knew that they were in the care of the Council. There was no link at that time. So I suddenly had a rise in my caseload and realised that I had got an extra … we had found a missing batch of boys in the care of the Council. That led to a lot of hard work trying to trace papers and origins for these lads, and of course from the boys’ point of view when they heard that I was their social worker, every week when I went to the home, they would queue up in the hall waiting to see me to ask me much the same questions. It was really quite heartbreaking even for me to go to this place in Brentwood and so see these boys queuing up to ask me these questions. And of course I discovered all sorts of things happening through the evidence of these children. Their size … they were all undersized. They all had worries and problems and the whole atmosphere was so depressing and so sad – Dickensian in origin – and I felt we must do something urgently about them.

So I started to see how we could get the home closed. There was no way that the Brothers were taking sight of any change in practice. The whole institutional atmosphere was authoritarian and neglectful and abusive, in my view, of the children’s interests. And so I went through a long process of collecting evidence from the boys of what was happening to them individually, the way their lifestyle … how far they had progressed in their schoolwork – the standards were very low, no-one ever went to a grammar school at the age of 12, 13, when they could take an exam at stage of history to move on to a technical school or a higher grade school. Their academic ability, their social ability, their health, all were very low standard. I collected the evidence over the next two or three years, individually getting the children out when I could. I bought a Dormobile, which would house 13 at a time and I took 13 at a time on outings. We made great efforts, I did, to get holiday homes for them so they could for the very first time enter a normal house with a kitchen and a cooker and a fireplace, which they had never seen before – and a woman in the home. I advertised in the catholic papers, the national catholic papers, and took them to parts of Britain for their holidays, and discovered of course that they had major mental health and behavioural problems. Some were arsonists, some of course were stealing, some were wetting the beds, and every imaginable problem came from the evidence at the holiday homes that I managed to get them to. I realised what a major crisis in childcare we had with this battery of children, and there was no way that I felt able … that the home would change. The whole institutional culture there was totally ingrained in the attitudes of the staff and so my only option was to see if we could get it closed. It took a long time and a lot of effort, and three years later it was announced that St Charles School was going to be closed. And of course I had to find alternative homes and placements for all the boys in the LCC care, and that was another big piece of work.

Out of the institution

The two boys who I originally spoke of, whom I knew on initial entry to the place, I got into foster homes in East London near to where I lived. It was a low standard Victorian house with no bathroom, a working class family who had historically taken foster children. I think the lady at the time had six or eight foster children, and they were part of this household. And because she was nearby to me she would ring me up and give me news of the boys, whom I kept closely in touch with, and she complained about the fact that they didn’t wash. Well, of course I knew it was rather difficult to wash in a house with no bathroom, and only a kitchen sink for eight people to wash in. But we managed to get over that by finding a public bath nearby, but in the meantime the boys would come to be admonished, supposedly. On a Saturday morning they would walk round to me at home and we were able to find out more about them and their futures. We remained in touch and it was really for me a great joy to watch the progress of those who made it in their adult lives without getting into prison and not getting into difficulties, a criminal life, or getting into mental health problems which led them into hospital that way.

You did mention that when they came to your home the little boy said something about his …

Yes, D., the boy who was black – I had to say to them that Mrs So and So had told me that she was very upset they didn’t wash, and of course they reiterated what I knew already, that there was no bathroom in the place and it was a bit difficult queuing up in the kitchen with everybody there eating and the sink being rather overused. So I had said to her, “Send them round and I’ll talk to them about it.” D., the black friend, he laughed his head off and said, “Ha ha ha, I’m so pleased, you can’t tell whether I’ve washed my neck or not.” He accepted his blackness very well, and he had a good friend with him, the other boy that had gone there, and between them they supported each other. They supported the other foster children in that home, there was a very good bonding. And one of the girls, I was told by D. some years later, was much supported by D. when she became pregnant by someone else, and he was asked to cycle down somewhere in Kent to tell her mother that she was pregnant, because she couldn’t tell her mother. So he was given the task of telling her mother. And these sorts of bonding took place between all these children in different dire circumstances.

D. kept in touch and I went to his wedding later on, and he had two boys, one of whom went to university; he had a mental health problem during the time that he was at university with which I was involved. They remained in contact with me and whim my husband died in 1966 D. kindly came to the house with his little old car, from where he lives near to Guildford, up to east London and helped me by taking away all my husband’s clothes. And he said he found very good use for them and he is still wearing the shoes! It was really lovely for me to think the little old car was absolutely stacked with my husband’s clothes which he found good use and good homes for.

Finding a roof for children

Can I just ask you about the LCC. At what point did the boys stop being in care with the LCC?

Well, of course, I think at that time they were officially our charges until, I think it was 16, but it might have been 18 at a later stage. But of course by that time they were usually not in stable homes after leaving care and they weren’t very well managed thereafter. We had a huge caseload of individual children, and it was difficult to actually find roofs for them, somewhere for them to sleep. So the sort of secret system that went on between childcare officers. They kept a little book of useful phone numbers and they would not share it very widely with everybody else because if you were on duty and you had several children to find beds for that night, you would be spending an hour or two going round your secret network trying to find a bed. And you were jolly lucky if you found a bed. I had a colleague I worked with and she actually left her job in order to take two boys that she had been asked to find homes for, she resigned from her job in order to take them home with her. They had witnessed their parents’ suicide. They were incredibly weak nervous state, a confused and distraught, distressed state and she felt that it was so important that these boys were cared for, the two together. The accommodation was so sparse in the post war period, the residential service hadn’t been built up very far, we hadn’t got foster homes very much, the war had stopped everything and there were many many more children in need. It was a very Dickensian sort of scenario that we were in.

I could tell you a lot more about the outings, and the runaways, the bed wetters and all that jazz – but it would take too long. I went Yorkshire, Wales, Lancashire, taking individual boys into a home in order to give them an experience of living.

Of course, the childcare service at that time was absolutely new to councillors responsible for providing the local authorities’ childcare service for the first time ever. And of course they found it strange and difficult to manage in terms of councillors. For example, in our East London base we had a number of women in the sex industry who were living in Swedenborg Square in that area of East London, whose children played around and were evident in the neighbourhood, and the councillors felt that … there was a sort of conflict of values the whole time … the councillors felt that these women’s children should not be living with them and put pressure on the Children’s officer for these children to be taken into care. And of course the childcare officers, including me, didn’t want that to happen. We wanted to support the women to enable them to work, as they would work whatever we thought, and keep their children with adequate daycare facilities. And that’s what we tried to achieve within very very limited resources at that time. And so the conflict came at Council level, quite often, the councillors being Irish people working as councillors, with a great deal of enthusiasm for their power in Tower Hamlets and East London at that time – Stepney, Poplar in particular, Bethnal Green, all of these areas controlled by a sort of tough group of people who were feeling that they would make it better by removing these children from their mothers. And there was a conflict of values with us trying to support the women to enable them to keep their children as far as we could.

And of course the councillors would want to advise on adoption policy. They would decide that this one could adopt, or this one would adopt, or this child should be adopted or this child shouldn’t be adopted. And the value differences came out very strongly between the councillors and the Children’s Officer at that time – and of course her staff, I was one of her staff. It was a problematic time for childcare because of value clashes. We were taking children into care with great difficulty quite frequently because of standards and housing problems – a huge number of people being made homeless and being separated from their children. Though there was at that time a Poor Law Institution where mothers with their children could go, but they had to leave their accommodation, the Poor Law accommodation, at 8.30/9 in the morning with the pram, with the children, and go and look for accommodation and come back not before 4.30 or 5.30 in the evening when they were allowed back into shelter. Of course there was no accommodation they could find, it was the irony of sending women with babies and children out into the streets because they were homeless, looking for accommodation which they couldn’t get. There was a huge number of ironies. The victims were blamed for everything.

Tell me about the fostering that you did.

In order to get foster homes – the fostering of the boys that I mentioned was probably the greatest challenge that I ever had at that time, but I had inherited a small number of children in foster homes. They were out in Essex, different villages in places in Suffolk, and I explored those villages and those areas to see if I could find more foster homes, given that I had a network of initial contacts in these places who would help me to see, and find … and advertise word-of-mouth, and recommend this piece of work that needed to be done. I’d thus got a network of foster homes and possible adoption homes from this network of small contacts that had been achieved historically.

So they were mostly children being disposed of outside London, not near to their families, not near to their siblings, and quite often it was not possible to keep siblings together, though that was our policy. It wasn’t always possible to implement because the children came into care of the Council in a crisis. It was always today that they needed a bed and it was very difficult to plan under those circumstances. We did build up networks of reasonable standard nurseries, being run by different organizations outside. We worked with voluntary sector, Barnardo’s and other organizations that would house children, but even there we had problems of standards. We had problems of neglect and abuse. We had to watch very carefully the quality of the care that we were offering as an alternative and in my view, prior to having my own children, we were doing our very best. But after having my own children I realised that that best was very very poor. And that’s when I would return to the child care service as a part time worker at their request with regular phone calls, “How many hours can you give? Can you give ten hours a week, can you give five hours a week?” In desperation, they were trying to get staff who had some experience, and with motherhood I felt … going back I looked at my caseload, as it was called, of the children that I had left after my six years initial work – I spent 1950 to 1956 as a child care officer in one district, so I really got to know my patch. I got to know my streets, the qualities, the problems, the weaknesses of the neighbourhood. Locality became an important knowledge base in order to do the best you could to provide local supports and better services that might keep families going and help them.

Were there any particular arrangements with what you would call “difficult” children?

Yes we would have Maladjusted schools, which I thought were quite good. They had a completely different philosophy. They were expensive, apparently, the LCC itself had their own maladjusted schools in various parts of the Home Counties …

Do you remember their names?

It will take me a time to remember. It may come back – there was one out in the Essex/Suffolk area, and there was one down in Kent which was famous. I might be able to remember the names, but they haven’t come back to me at this minute.

For maladjusted children we would really prize the achievement of a place for a very damaged child. That would be a great success if we could get a child into a Maladjusted school. And of course the Council had its own boarding schools for people in the services and people whose children needed boarding care, which I don’t think we have any more. But they were quite elitist places and did rather well, we thought at the time. But on the whole the emphasis changed and we as childcare officers fought for a legislation that allowed us to work to prevent the need for children coming into care or appearing before the courts. Because this was the damaging stream, direction, we realised our care was not going to be as good as a good family home, the continuity of family and network and belonging … because the foster homes mostly that we could find were outside London, whilst London was building up its need for housing. There was a stark loss of housing in London during the war and people returning to London from different parts of the country when the war was over, housing was impossible to achieve. Hence the move towards social housing in the sixties.

Can we just stay with the children in care for the moment? You were talking about the legislation. What happened there?

We got the ’69 Act and we were required to now work towards prevention of the need to take into care and appearing before the court. So we were trying to stem the flow of children into care and see what work we could do to retain family bases with families with a high burden of life that they were enduring. Of course many homeless families had children being received into care because of homelessness, and so I was very tempted when I was offered a part-time childcare job in a homeless unit that was being set up by the LCC – Peggy Jay and Councillor Bea Serota, at that time, to see if we could redeem families in a reception centre. So a paint factory in Hackney, in Morning Lane, was made into a reception centre for homeless families across London and I happened to work and live in Hackney and I was very interested to be offered this job. When we arrived at the factory, the Reception Centre it was called, I was rather horrified to find that each family was allocated one room in the converted paint factory. Each family, might be five people, would be given accommodation in one room and they were eating in the basement, which was a collective feeding centre, queuing up for a meal and being fed collectively.

A damaged population

I’ve got a bee in my bonnet, which I’d love to know more about, the damage that was done to that population, and at all levels – it happened to us all. Some of us survived, made something of it, but a large part of that child population was damaged and I think we are still reaping the result.

And look at the damage to mental health, and physical damage, that many people, including my father, including a number of my friends who married damaged partners, and had to live through rearing families with a husband who had had a psychiatric problem coming out of the war, and I have had several friends who have had to live in marriages with the brunt of that on themselves and their children. The war was such a terrible terrible experience.

And it is going to happen again, of course.

It is happening again. We just repeat it all over again

The damage was at all levels. My father wasn’t actually injured but I mean his life was ruined by the war, by Dunkirk. Looking back, I can see that effect on me, not anything major, but living with a damaged parent, and my mother having to do the same.

It is so worrying, because I hoped that by my eighties, we altogether … such a lot of goodwill and aspiration …

As you said, and maybe you could say more about that, we were all sort of on the hub of these expectations, the new Elizabethan age, and the Reformation, the exhibition that we had in London … 1951.

People like ourselves coming out of all these exciting courses, because all the ideas had been there in the 1930s, generating, and of course the war intervened and the Depression hit me. I still remember the Depression, I was about six. In about 1931-34, that period of the Depression. I remember I lived in the very toughest part of East London, along the docks. I was born in a dock, factory area, my father was the works manager of this oil refinery. The oil came in from the barges, was refined, brought back in the barges and went to the places. It was drilled in Trinidad, and brought over and refined in East London and off through the canals to somewhere else on a barge. That stopped and my father lost his job. He was a damaged man from the First World War. He was deaf and he wore a hearing aid, but he managed to become a works manager despite his deafness. He also had been damaged by the brutality of the war and he would give terrible verbal abuse to my mother periodically, then he’d apologise. I’d hear these terrible rows in the night. And my brothers would expect me to go in and mediate at this age, and of course they thought I could do it better than they could. My brother, the one that’s still alive, remembers it still. And yet he was a loving father, he tried very hard to do his very best for us, a very intelligent man. He couldn’t communicate verbally very well but he did everything to enhance our lives, including he got a little car and took us out of East London on Saturdays and Sundays every week to get us into the fresh air of Kent, cross into the countryside and so he did his very very best. He made us do homework, he educated us, “Get out the atlas, get out the dictionary, we’ll look that word up, shall we find out where that place is? And look at that bird. You know what that bird is? Here’s a tree, a wonderful tree…”

All the things that enhanced our inquisitive nature. Much more so than my mother who was a calmer person. But she was one of 14, no education, but she worked very hard and imaginatively in her life and I appreciate her now more. When I was a carer I appreciated that she was a remarkable person. People used to say. “How do you manage to keep your mother going so well at 91, she’s out stopping the bus …?” I’d say, “Mostly brandy and Guinness.”

She had lots of things. She fell in love at one stage with Eamonn Andrews on the television. Somebody said that happened to her mother too. They fall in love with … you know, when she was demented she fell in love. And we managed to keep her going at home. I would get home from work … “Have you been out today?” “Of course … don’t know where I’ve been.” “Did you get on the bus?” “Oh yes, I just put my stick up, and told him, I’m coming back with you, I want to get off at the same place.” She had a lovely time. Talked all the time, like I do!

No room in London and the disastrous spiral of homelessness – Cathy Come Home

Well, as I was saying, in the early 1960s London’s position on housing was absolutely crucially difficult. Incredibly hard for people coming into London, returning to London, moving into London from abroad, for work or for opportunity. Individuals or families to find housing, particularly for families who had been invited from their African villages or Jamaican homes or parts of England to come to London to perform essential jobs of work and then to find that when they wanted to bring their families it was a massive problem to find accommodation.

And in that time children were coming into care because of homelessness, and we were realizing this was against their better interest, losing their families because there was no roof for them. And the LCC Councillors attempted to find a way round this by believing that the families were needing to be given help to become more fully functioning families and then to be rehoused. So this centre in Morning Lane was opened up for this purpose, for families all over London that had become homeless, and I was seconded to work there from the children’s department with a colleague. There were two members of the public health department, two people from the welfare department, two people from the education department, to try and see if we could work together as a team and support and improve the functioning of the families. It was of course a complete failure in those regards because to put 68 families together in one building, giving them each a room, with communal feeding underneath led to lots of disease; and we had constant problems with children having to come into care because the family had developed some disease which was quickly across the whole of the family. Children are being taken into care and taken in all directions out of London, in different parts of the Home Counties, separated from each other and from their mothers and fathers and of course lots of family friction ensued. Many men left the building, not wanting this close communal living, and the mothers and the children suffered many separations, many illnesses – diarrhoea, and chicken pox, and scarlet fever, and all sorts of things. We’d rush across and we’d have to separate the families out.

So we kept a record, my colleague and I from the childcare department, to show how these families were being affected by their entry to Morning Lane Reception Centre. How we in fact damaged the families by exposing them to these risks and hazards. How we actually separated out siblings from mothers, and so our concern as childcare officers was to report all of this spiral of disaster that followed homelessness. We got as far as reports to the County Councillors, Peggy Jay and the like, saying this is not working, we have to find them homes first and give them social workers second. This did not seem to be accepted as a disastrous scheme by the officers and the major County Hall officers had been Councillors who had proposed it. My desperation was great because I could see what we were doing was not in the interests of the families we were trying to help. So when I was approached by Ken Loach and others involved in this issue, and I was asked for help with the preparation of “Cathy Come Home”, I said, “Yes, of course I would like to give this whole theme publicity”. Because there was no way we could make people understand the realities that we were facing by research figures and by pleading on paper for a different solution. Hence the producer came to my house, I took home the research I had been collecting, and he recorded my voice, which is an over-voice, overarching the actress and the team who were portraying the downward spiral of people who became homeless and the separation of their children, the loss of their children. So that was really quite a rewarding thing for me to feel that the effect of the film was terrifically powerful and impressive, and changed the mobilisation of bias, the accepted culture which had been that the problem was the families’. But we were able to point out that the problem was the housing situation London was suffering at that time. So I was quite pleased to have been part of that endeavour to change the public opinion towards what was regarded as the failing families, whereas it was in fact the failing housing provision.

I forgot to say that the families had to be housed.

New estates and overspill

And were they housed?

They had to go into what was called “Part three” accommodation, half-way houses, and they were moved on to normal housing.

Was that the time when the London overspill was happening?

They were building the new estates.

Did any of them go to those estates?

Oh yes, we followed up.

So which ones did they go to?

Well, the big new LCC estates that were built, in Chingford for example, and on the fringe, if you go round the slightly outer edge of London you see these big LCC estates that were built at that time.

So that was the first tranche, that was before places like …

In the sixties, the tower blocks …

So that was the first tranche … so later on some of the new towns, and also places like Thetford became from the tiny little place to London overspill. And we are still having the effects of it, interestingly enough.


And I am sure that is happening elsewhere. But that was a different period, was it?

I can’t remember, to be honest, because I was totally engaged again with London’s homelessness, when I worked in the seventies in the Elephant and Castle area and we did again a Homeless study in that area to prove, again, that London needed more homes … it was a big social policy issue still and we wanted to reveal it again. I was working at the National Institute by this time and we were put in touch with a professor down at Southampton University whose name, I think was James Grieve, I can’t be absolutely sure if I’ve got the right name. And he came to see us, looked at what we were collecting about the homelessness issue around the South Bank area. Because we were fighting for housing to be built, rather than offices, for working people in that area, who serviced the offices, cleaners and things. People were working on service provision for those blocks of offices and the land was so valuable we fought very very hard. Coin Street, I don’t know if you remember, it is a beautiful place to visit, and I have recently stayed in it with a friend who’s got a flat there, I tried to become a resident after P.’s death and I was going to come back to London, but they said the waiting list was so long that I wouldn’t be alive to benefit from it.

What the Morning Lane Reception Centre did do in my view was to start thinking about how the different departments of the LCC should work together on a common problem, which was family well-being, housing and family needs. So it did have that asset. The homelessness reception centre was closed and the housing department had the problem of finding alternative bases. But at least we got families moved into what was called Part Three accommodation as a stepping stone to normal housing.

I’m very conscious that in the sixties and seventies a lot of seminal stuff was written and published. Everyone remembers the film events, so to speak, and then there were books like “The Working Classes of East London”, Michael Young. Are there any memories you have around those publications, because they were all very influential at the time?

Well, the sociology that Michael Young did about communities and explaining cultural patterns of communities and localities was very powerful for me because it traced the patterns of behaviour of families.

How did that fit in with where you were at the time?

I was so pleased to read the Grieve study about people who lived near there.

Dorothy (2026-2021) talking to WISEArchive on 20th November 2010

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