A male applicant for assistance at the premises of the Discharged Prisoners' Aid Society, Cathedral Square, in 1909.
The society was formed in 1856 to help released convicts find employment. A report in 1890 described how prisoners were invited on the day of their release to breakfast at the Society's premises: "The average attendance every morning is about thirty. Each man is spoken to kindly, his name and conviction are taken down, and after the meal is over, a few words of counsel addressed to them. Those who want to find work are invited to remain behind, and for such as we consider eligible we find suitable employment in the various public works in our city."
"In no case do we give money help. If a man needs to be tided over for a day or two till suitable work [can] be found for him, maintenance is given in food and lodgings through our Charity Organisation Society's tickets. About 500 men applied for work during the past year, of whom we could safely recommend 385, the rejected being incorrigible drunkards or thieves, whom it would only have been an insult to an employer to introduce to his notice."
The society's workload in 1909 seems to have declined since Victorian times: ten years earlier, in 1899, 7,177 male prisoners had sought assistance from the society, and 2,373 found work. Around 4,500 women had also sought assistance.
Reference: Heatherbank Museum of Social Work, print 4020
Reproduced with the permission of Glasgow Caledonian University, Research Collections, Heatherbank Museum of Social Work
charities, Discharged Prisoners' Aid Society, employment agencies, ex-convicts, job centres, prisoners