Wednesday, 5 May 2010

A spot of social history

I've just finished reading 'Through the Hard Times and the Good' by Chris Hare. This is a non-fiction book, a social history of Worthing from the early 1930s. It focusses on the creation and works of the organisation now known as Guild Care, which was previously known as Worthing Council for Social Services, and was a forerunner of the welfare state in Worthing.

The reason I bought and read this book is because I've been researching my family history, and my mum's side of the family are all from Worthing. Not only that, but my great-aunt was one of the original founders of Guild Care. In fact, she seems to have been something of a saint. I never met her - she was dead long before I was born - but I'd heard she was 'a bit of a charity worker'. Well that's the understatement of the century. She worked tirelessly, for no pay, for decades, helping Worthing's poor, needy and elderly. Some examples - she arranged for free dental treatment for children, care homes for the elderly, nursery provision for the young. A memo arrived from the Government, suggesting the setting up of Citizen's Advice Bureaus. My great-aunt got straight on to that the next day, and Worthing was the first town to get a CAB. Methold House, Guild Care's HQ in Worthing, is named after her.

This was a very readable book, well researched and illustrated. I feel I got to know my great-aunt as a result of it. It would be of interest to anyone interested in social history, or the history of Worthing.

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