CHARITABLE CARE OF OLD PEOPLE IN WARSAW IN THE SECOND HALF OF THE 19TH C. (Opieka dobroczynna nad starcami w Warszawie w drugiej polowie XIX wieku)
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Charitable care of poor adults in Warsaw in the second half of the 19th c. had various forms, which can be classified according to their functions. One of the forms was regular care, which concerned not only the old and the disabled, who had no means to support themselves with, but also other groups that needed help, for instance old teachers or bankrupt landowners, who could only partly cover their costs of living. At that time the poor were no longer committed to workhouses, since that form of 'help' had proved inefficient. A common way of dealing with beggars and vagabonds was to send them back to the place where they had been born. The law obliged communes to support the poor, but even police restrictions could not solve the problem of beggars in Warsaw. Another form of charity was temporary care of people who were temporarily in a difficult financial situation. Night shelters were organized, as well as special institutions for people who left hospitals and were unable to work. Temporary care was offered for example to poor seamstresses, craftsmen and workers, who were temporarily unemployed. It also concerned people who had a place to live but could not earn enough to support themselves. A house care institution was established, whose task was to supply such people with clothing, fuel and medicines, sometimes also with limited financial aid. Other forms of help included the distribution of Rumford's soup, organizing soup kitchens and cheap tearooms. The second half of the 19th saw new tendencies in charitable care of adults. The aim was not only to meet the daily needs of the poor but also to give them a chance to develop and change their life. New institutions were established to help the poor find jobs and develop their aspirations thorough education (e.g. free-of-charge reading rooms). Attempts of that sort were directed at both young and old people. Charitable care of poor adults, especially those who were able to work, evolved considerably throughout the 19th c. As to the care of poor and lonely old people, charity institutions remained largely helpless. It is difficult to judge whether the situation would have been different if Poland had been independent. The contemporary attitude to old people makes one very sceptical in that respect.
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