The movement now known as “U.G.S.” was first known as “The Mission.” When Bishop Talbot (afterwards Bishop of Winchester) was appointed to be bishop of the vast and rapidly increasing population of South London, he invited the Godolphin School to join, with a few other girls’ schools, in supporting a mission-district in Camberwell. The Head Mistresses who accepted this proposal were invited to a meeting at Bishop’s House, Kennington, on 20th March 1897. At this meeting the bishop explained the scheme, described the district with a population of about 7000, off the Old Kent Road, and introduced to the Head Mistresses a young clergyman named Mr. Veazey, whom he appointed to be the missioner. And so we got our Mission. For this we subscribed, for this we worked, for this we prayed. Through the Mission the School began to know something of social problems and of the social service in crowded centres of population which was bravely attempting to help to solve them. Many hundreds of Godolphin girls and Old Girls have supported the Mission, many of them have given personal service in Camberwell, and two of them have been in turn the organising secretary of the executive. The weekly collections at school of the pennies and halfpennies -and sometimes more-the work-party, which prepared the way for the Christmas party given by Godolphin in Camberwell ; the occasional visits of Canon Veazey, Mr. Pheasant, and of Godolphin Old Girls from the Settlement; the “Green Sheet” issued to the school by headquarters; and the short Mission prayer written by Bishop Talbot, said all together daily at school-all these things combined to make the Mission, consciously or unconsciously, part of the Godolphin air we breathed. And now, thirty-one years later, what is the position of the movement? It may be said at once that it has gone far forward and is advancing. It has gone forward. Instead of seven schools there are a hundred and fifty, and these are scattered all over the country, and include representatives of every type of girls’ schools, other than elementary, Church of England Schools, County Council and Municipal Schools, High Schools of the Girls’ Public Day Schools’ Trust, Old Foundation Schools, notable public and private boarding schools, large schools and small schools, and Old Girls’ Associations, all combining to make a membership of many thousands strong.
Breadth of Policy – There is probably no good school in the country that is not responding with subscriptions and work of some kind to one or more of the many appeals that come to them asking for help, and to those who are situated in the midst of a great city or near a busy industrial centre the call is loud indeed. The policy of the U.G.S. embodied in its constitution, is so wide that any school who so desires may join it, whatever their social work is, and wherever their subscriptions and service are given. It is obvious that a school in Leeds or Birmingham should be helping to supply their own local needs, leaving other schools to send help to London. The only obligatory annual subscription to thc U.G.S. General Fund is £l, is. from each school.
The U.G.S. is undenominational, being a great federation of schools of every kind, who take their part in trying to render social service on a Christian basis.
The Growth of the Work in Camberwell – In thirty-one years much growth would be expected in any movement that was really alive, and so there is much progress to record. The regular income is somewhere round about £3000 a year.
Instead of giving support to one small district, the work of the U.G.S. in South London has extended to three large districts and one of the largest Women’s Settlements in London, giving large money grants in the payment of salaries and the support of every variety of social work. The U.G.S. Settlement (address: The Warden, 19 Peckham Road, S.E.5) is the headquarters of U.G.S., and the activities carried on there by resident paid expert workers, paying residents and students in training, and about eighty part-time weekly voluntary workers-many of them Old Girls-are much too numerous to relate. Amongst the Old Girls from many other schools, I will here mention one of our own (Georgina Bacchus), the paid head of the Extensive Care Committee Work, and teacher and conductor of two string orchestras drawn from Camberwell. Besides the regular income, many “special efforts” have been made by the combined U.G.S. schools from time to time, which have resulted in the building of the great hall in the Kempshead Road, which was opened by Princess Christian in 1902, many club-rooms built or adapted, an Infant Welfare Centre, the laying out of the playing field off Dulwich Park and the laying on of water and erection of an army hut. The last combined special effort made by schools and Old Girls produced help for the New Welfare Centre, and also £1100 towards the building of the fine hall so urgently needed in St. Andrew’s Parish, Peckham. The gift in money from each individual may be small, but thousands of small contributions made regularly produce a great result. Besides the annual Subscription from Godolphin to the U.G.S. general fund, (which in 1926 amounted to Y.52, 19s. 6d., and that from (Godolphin Old Girls to £88), much special help of various kinds goes from Salisbury to Peclcham, and, for the last few years, a very important contact has been made through the invitation from Godolphin to Sunday School teachers from St. Andrew’s to spend a happy (lay in Salisbury. At the opening of St. Andrew’s Hall, it was very jolly to be greeted as a friend by a Peckham girl, whose work is in Bond Street, and who is, besides, a Sunday School teacher and member of the Parish Council. She told me she had been at Godolphin, and she knew some of the mistresses and girls by name. Here we touch upon what is, after all, the keystone to the building up of all endeavours to do service to the community, namely, the mutual understanding of all sorts and conditions of people.
It is impossible to calculate the rich return which comes back to the schools from any gifts of money or service they make. They begin to acquire the knowledge which will give them the power to be of use in the service of making unhappy people happy. They gain enthusiasm from joining one with another to promote a great cause. The Record, which is the fine publication issued to the schools from headquarters, gives first-hand expert information on social problems and social work, and is becoming the vehicle for pooling experience gathered from all over the country. A supplement to the next number will contain a record of social work done by schools in many different parts of England. October 27th, 1927, will always stand for a day of great distinction in the history of U.G.S. The great hall of the Church House, Westminster, was packed with girls from schools and Old Girls from many parts of the country for the annual meeting. The Bishop of Southwark presided, and made the opening speech, and the other speakers were the Bishop of Kingston, Chairman of the Executive, Miss Fry, the Principal of Somerville College, Sir Henry Slesser, and the Prime Minister, who, by his great speech, stamped the movement as one worthy of the attention of the Head of the Government. He said that the two essential qualities in every one who desired to help in the great cause of true social reform were patience and the sense of the value of every human soul.