Research Forum

Christmas Fund for Unemployed
published by Pat Hase on Fri, 12/03/2021 - 10:10

I have been contacted with a query about this stamp.  It is 2" x 1" and printed in blue.  Can anyone help with discovering when it would have been issued (probably between 1937 and 1960)?  Who was responsible for this fund and what was the outcome?  How were the funds distributed? 

Comments ..

Submitted by Pat Hase on Fri, 12/03/2021 - 14:07

I have received some thoughtful memories of a Fund in Weston with permission to post.  It certainly paints a picture of conditions in Weston at that time.  Im so grateful for this.

Hi Pat, This is a fascinating bit of social history and reflects, to some extent, how people, down on their luck, were supported by the community before the 'Welfare State' was more fully developed. Talking now from personal experience, I was brought up in a single parent household in Weston in the 50s/60s. My father died leaving a widow and 3 very young children, one of whom became severely disabled within a year of his death. I cannot tell you how hard it was for my mother, with no wider family to assist her, during those trying times. She managed, albeit by the skin of her teeth, on a widow's pension and what they used to call supplementary benefit - it amounted to about one third of average wages. What I do vividly remember however, is that at Christmas we did receive a modest grant from the Mayor's Fund. This might have amounted to no more than about £2 and 10 shillings in the early sixties. However, it made all the difference to us as a family, being able to afford a few extras which otherwise would have been out of reach. I also remember that money could only be used in certain shops and this often meant me and my brother having to trek across town to access these businesses. What is also worth noting is that in the industrial heartlands with big and powerful union representation people who had fallen on hard times would often find support through the unions family members had belonged to. In the more far flung places, particularly seaside resorts where unionisation was weaker, social support was more likely to be provided by independent charitable initiatives such as the one you hi-light. So, from my recollection the Mayor's Fund went on well into the 60s. It may well be the case that because of the social stigma attached to being in receipt of charity handouts you may well find responses in short supply.

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