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PATIENTS’ AND PRISONERS’ AID SOCIETY.

The twelfth annual meeting was held this afternoon at the Young Women’s Christian Association Rooms. His Honor Mr Justice Williams, president of the society, occupied the chair, and among those present were the Rev. Dr Stuart, Rev. D. Borrie, Messrs E. Barr, A. Brunton, R. Chisholm, W. Hialop, the Hon. T. Dick, Dr Hialop, D. Wright, Rev. E. Walker, J. Reid, R. A. Lawson, Rev. A. Cameron, W. Hutchison, A. Sligo, E. E. C. Quick, and J. W. Jago.^ The Rev. A. Cameron having engaged in prayer, The Chairman remarked that ho was sorry to see so small an attendance, and could only hope it was a sign that tho public were satisfied with the work of tho society. He bad noticed that when there was any dissatisfaction with the administration of public bodies the people were very keen indeed to scent the battle from afar, and mustered in largo numbers. The speaker proceeded to comment favorably on the report, .remarking with satisfaction that tho expenditure ,had been kept well within the income, and concluded by asking Dr Stuart to move the adoption of the report. Dr Stuart said he did so with great pleasure, because their excellent society was quietly giving most valuable assistance to the weakest members of the community, and although it was the mortal foe of crime it was not the mortal foe of criminals. Tho society was a great factor in securing tho reformation of that class, and he thought it would be a calamity if the community were to neglect them, and leave them to tho constable and tho gaoler.—(Applause.) Then if one wont through tho hospital ho would see that the patients were not limited to residents in tho City and suburbs, but wore gathered together from all parts of Otago. Tho society also had the advantage of having as their agent a ixod-fearing man who ministered to the sick and to the criminal alike with kindly help, and did everything in his power to comfort them. Tho Rev. D. Bourie seconded the motion at some length, referring to tho nobleness of the society’s objects, and expressing the hope that it would become more and more endeared to tho people, and be looked upon as a society whose funds it would be an honor to contribute to. This speaker also referred in feeling terms to the great loss that the society and tho community in general had sustained in the death of Mr Rennie.

The following is tho report of the Com mittee:—

In issuing their twelfth annual report the Committee do not deem a lengthy statement necessary. That Ihe explanation given last year of the woik and objects of the society, and of Mr Torrance’s dual position as its agent, had the effect of removing tho misconception that then to some extent prevailed is evidenced by the increa ed support the society has received this year. While the duties of the agent are multifarious, and the many cases dealt with differ more or less, the work of tho society, taken as a whole, remains much tha same year by year. The Committee gratefully acknowledge the liberal support accorded the society during the past year, and tender their sincere thanks to the subscribers in town aud in the country districts, and to the churches which gave liberal collections. They also express *heir indebtedness to tt.e collectors and to the ministers and other friends who in various ways assisted the society and farthered its objects, and to the friends who kindly aided Mr Torrance in tho matter of pulpit supply, whereby services were maintained in the hospital and gaol in the City, in the asylum at tieacliff, and latterly at Taiaroa Hoads prison. As will be seen from Mr Torrance’s statement herewith appendtd, 'he sphere of labor embraced by the society baa bein further extended, it having been decided by tha Government to retain at Taiaioa Heads tho prison* rs engaged on the defence works there instead of bringing them to town on the Saturdays. In addition to the pastoral work connected with these widelyscattered institutions, «nd to the help by effort more or less on behalf of a large number of persons, to the advantage of many of them, material assistance was rendered as follows: Articles of clothing to 2-1, boots to 1(5, blankets to 10, board to 34. rail and boat fare to 25, artio ea to hawk to 5, workir g implemen's to 2, money in sums varying from Is upwards to 05, and several others were prov ded with miscellaneous articles. Of those to whom farts were supplied, 1 was helped to the Home Country, 6 to their friends in the neighboring colonies, and the others to places in New Zealand. While Mr 'I orrance fills the office of chaplain to the three institutions, and in his ministration confines himself to the Protestant inmates, in rendering help, either by effort or by outlay of money, he acts without regard to church or nationality. The income for the year amounted to L 469 17s and the expenditure to L 422 12s 4d.

The Committee also desire to tender their thank i to the officers of the several institutions for the countenance and support given by them to the society's agent, and for tho facilities afforded him.

During the past year the society lost a warm friend and supporter by the death of Mr Alexander Rennie. At a meeting of the Committee on June 4, it was resolved “That the Committee of the Patients’ and Prisoners’ Aid Society, at this their first meeting after the death of Mr Alexander Ponnic, resolve to record their high appreciation of the services ho rendered the society, and warm interest he ever manifested in its work and objects during his eleven years’ c mncctiun with it. And they further resolve to forward a copy of the foregoing to Mrs Hennio, and to express their deep sympathy with her in her bereavement.” A copy of the resolution, signed by His Honor Mr Justice Williams as president of the society, and tho Hon. T. Dick as vicepresident, was duly forwarded to Mrs Rennie. Mr Torrance, as in previous years, has during the past twelve months given unremitting attention to the work of his office, ho having now been twenty-one years in his present posi-

tion-nine in the service of the Government and twelve in the service of the society. The Committee have pleasure in testifying to the manner in which his difficult work as agent and chaplain is performed, and they believe that during his long term of office his varied labors have been productive of good results. Mr Torrance submitted the following report :

Owing to changes that have taken place, the work is not now so easily overtaken as in past years, when all the institutions, with their inmates, were within the bounds of thn City. The location of the asylum at Seacliff, and recently of a large proportion of the prisoners at Taiaroa Heads, has greatly extended the sphere of labor. With the assistance of friends, Sunday services were held in the hospital and gaol, with the addition of a weeknight service in the hospital. At Seaobff Asylum services were also maintained as in previous years. At Taiaroa Heads defence works the services, in connection with which I have the assistance of a friend, are at present at the rate of once a fortnight; but if the men are to remain there permanently until tho works are finished I hope to be able to arrange for weekly sei vices. I may also say that on several occasions I have on week nights given lectures on different topics to the prisoners at the Heads, and that it is my intention to give such addresses as frequently as possible while the men are there. Throughout the year the hospital was visited almost daily, frequently more than once a day, the chief attention being given to the most urgent cases. The gaol in the City was visited occasionally in the course of each week, and the branch prison at Taiaroa Heads as opportunity offered. The asylum wards were visited on the days of service or on the following days. With only one or two exceptions funerals from the hospital and asylum were duly attended by me. It can readily bo understood that in the prosecution of my work I become apprised of the necessitous condition of families through the bread-winners being prostrated by physical ailment and accident, or by their confinement in tho asylum or gaol. I visited a good many of these, and rendered such immediate assistance as the circumstances called for, nnd helped to put numbers of them in the way of ensuring more regular supply. It should be understood that the assistance given in these cases was not taken from the society’s funds. It may not be out of place to say that many persons not connected with the institutions, and frequently new arrivals from other parts of the colony, apply to me for assistance in the shape of

boots, blankets, board, rent, etc, in the belief that the funds of the society are for a'l and sundry. In answer to my inquiiies they invariably tell mo that my name and address arc furnished thorn by persons resident in the City. Of couise, I do my best to remove the erroneous impression. To mo this is a serious tax, though in a good many instances I have to refuse help, especially

when the help asked for is large. In every possible way, and without regard to labor, material and other assistance was rendered in all proper cases to persons connected with the institutions when it was really required. As the society’s agent I had in this way to deal with nearly COO persons, the largest proportion of whom were from the hospital, but only little more than a third of these received material aid out of the society’s funds. By the efforts on their behalf a good many were put in a way of doing for themselves, this being the society’s real object. Three classes of persons I have determinedly to resist—those who show a disposition to hang upon me. and to make themselves regular pensioners ; those who are extravagant and unreasonable in their requests ; and those who in effect demand monetary assistance as a matter of right, and without any regard to the mode of life pursued by them. In one or two instances the requests made by strong, ablebodied men, with tho view of being settled in an easy mode of life, were simply preposterous. In every cise in which large aid was given there was a necessity for it, and the recipients showed themselves to be worthy of it; and as tho result of the assistance rendered them both by labor and outlay of money a number who would otherwise have required continuous charitable support are now earning their livelihood and maintaining the’r families. In every instance in which assistance was refused there was good reason for the refusal. I am glad to say that satisfactory letters have been received from and concerning some of those helped to places outside of Now Zealand, and from and concerning others assisted to places within the colony. There is also satisfaction with regard to persons resident in tho City or neighborhood who were helped over their pressing difficulties. Tho asylum work may be specially noted. Of course the largest proportion of the patients are mentally beyond reach, but of the 500 inmates about 130 or 140 regularly attend service and decorously go through all its parts, some of them, at least, with seeming pr fit. But in addition to divine service on the ciahbath afternoon, a service of song is conducted by the asylum organist in the forenoon on behalf of female patients who cannot bo trusted at the afternoou worship. In this kind and considerate provision female attendants heartily co-operate. The quieting and sobering effect (,f tho service, and the earnestness and manifest delight with which the poor women (mindless as regards everything else) take part in it, are surprising. During that hour of hymn-singing there is in attempt to restrain them into anything like church order; but, while a kindly control is maintained over them, they are allowed freedom to sit or stand or move about as they may feel inclined. Mrs Grundy, the matron, has repeatedly spoken of tho soothing aud quieting influence of these exercises continuously perceptible in a number of instances. As in suitable cases connected with the other institutions, 1 render all assistance in my power to friendless persons discharged from the asylum to enable them to start anew in life. Persons from the asylum have greater difficulties by far to battle with than those from the hospital or gaol. Though they may be perfectly restored to mental soundness, employers are as a rule chary in giving them work, through fear of a relapse. There is, therefore, in their case, morn than in others, a strong call for sympathy and kindly assistance, material and otherwise. In a number of instances persons from the Seacliff Asylum have given great satisfaction. As in past years, tho correspondence entailed upon me as the society’s agent was very heavy, comprising more than 500 letters. I m*y bo permitted to remark that while I have for twelve years held the position of agent of tho society, I have now reached tho close of my twenty-first year as chaplain to the hospital, the gaol, and the asylum. I will only add that my relations with all the officers of the institutions are of the happiest, and that every facility is rendered rne by Mr Burns, Mr Phillips, and Dr King, chief officers of the hospita l , gaol, and asylum respectively.

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Bibliographic details

PATIENTS’ AND PRISONERS’ AID SOCIETY., Evening Star, Issue 8020, 24 September 1889

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PATIENTS’ AND PRISONERS’ AID SOCIETY. Evening Star, Issue 8020, 24 September 1889

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