This book is an account of how a disillusioned minister, Frederick D’Aeth came to Liverpool and ended up making a unique contribution to the social welfare of the city. It is both a personal and a political story of this previously uncelebrated man, whose interests and gifts contributed greatly to the transformation of social welfare in the early part of the 20th century. Margaret Simey charts how in 1905 D’Aeth came to this city, becoming the first paid lecturer in newly formed social science department in Liverpool University and later in 1909, became the Director of Reports for the newly formed Liverpool Council for Voluntary Aid. This was also one of the first of such coordinating councils, emerging from the Report on the Royal Commission on Poor Laws, with D’Aeth responding to this challenge with vigour and a wealth of ideas. Although it is part biography, the book is also an important journey into past and present debates over social welfare. D’Aeth represents a particularly interesting figure, as his work clearly bridged the period of transition between victorian philanthropism, and the growing influence of the welfare state. The author reveals the talent D’Aeth developed in the as yet undefined field of Social Administration and his particular verve for co-ordination. Such a focus was crucial with a tide of diverse and fairly uncoordinated charitable organisations. Margaret Simey concludes that D’Aeth largely succeeded in harnessing these diverse groups in Liverpool and from further afield and, in doing so, demonstrated the structural value of truly independent voluntary sector effort within society and the potential of the active ‘citizenship’, as a essential balance to government provision.
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