THE PLIGHT of the unemployed man who has prospects of work at some time or other is bad enough; he hangs on. The clerk hopes for that vacancy, the skilled labourer for an imprbvement in his particular trade. But the plight of the unemployed man, such as the Welsh miner, who may never get work again, is beyond words to describe.
There are many villages in South
Wales where from 70 to 80 per cent. of the men have been out of work for six or seven years. For six or seven years they and their families have been existing on inadequate food. Theirs is an acceptance rather than an acquiescence. They are acclimatised now to poverty, but their surplus energy has gone ; they are without hope, their bodies vitiated, their stamina sapped.
A recent visitor to South Wales went round one of the hospitals and found a silence in the wards. No talk, no animation. She learnt that an average housewife in a typical village had about 8s. a week over to feed a family of four or five, paying rent and so forth. Only those whose men had allotments or gardens could provide green vegetables, for a small cabbage was 4d. in the shops. They could not afford bacon, which was a shilling a pound. In these tiny villages there are only small shops that offer no chance of a bargain.
Sometimes the children look happier and sturdier than the parents, who make perpetual sacrifices for them. Their health is cared for, clinics and schools look after them, clothes are sent. But not boots and shoes. The mothers must ' scrape ' to get these patched and repaired.
Last week listeners heard the point of view of a down-and-out Londoner. The Welsh miner's point of view, given by himself, will be one of the many broadcasts in this series.
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