Film ID: YFA 822 Video of YFA 822 New lives for old St George's crypt 1951 NEW LIVES FOR OLD 1951 Visitor TabsDescription This is a documentary which shows the work of St. George’s Crypt, a Boys Club and Hyde Lodge Nursing Home. The film concentrates on the effects St. George’s Crypt night shelter has on the lives of those who frequent it. The story is told through the eyes of George, a non-Christian who is converted after he has witnessed the work of the shelter. Titles – New Lives for Old A C.P.A.S. Production Taken with the co-operation of Rev. Tony Waite and his helpers at St. George’s Leeds, Capt. Keirle of the Church Army, the Rev. Fred Pickering and the Leeds City Police Service Photography and Editing by Charles J. Chislett A.R.P.S. Opening title: ‘What do men find in the works of St George’s crypt which helps them to see life from a new angle?’ . . . is it friendship?’ The film begins with a group of men who enter the ‘rest room’ of St George’s Church. One of the men goes through some documents while one of the Crypt workers stands behind a desk. At a different enquiry, desk a woman with a pram is seen to by one of the women workers who are working in an office. Intertitle: ‘Is it selfish service?’ The men queue up to get a roll and a mug of tea, and elsewhere a woman gets her feet bathed by a nurse. Intertitle: ‘Is it help and guidance?’ A young man is given a new overcoat and speaks with the vicar. Intertitle: ‘Is it the feeling that Jesus Christ is at work at the centre of all work which goes on there?’ The Church Warden puts out prayer or hymn books in the Church. Intertitle: ‘Let us watch the effect of the crypt on one who came to know it by chance when he was a critic of everything for which it stands. He shall be known as ‘George’.’ A man looks at his morning post, and as he leaves home, he is asked by his mother to deliver a parcel to St George’s Crypt. When he arrives, he is greeted by the vicar, Rev. Tony Waite, who takes him inside. George stops to look at a stained glass window depicting a scene from the New Testament, with a quote from Matthew 25:35, “I was a stranger and ye took me in”. The vicar shows George the work being done at the Crypt: giving food, clothing and nursing. George observes the men who are given hymn books at a service. Intertitle: ‘When George asked what good all this achieved they told him, amongst other people, of ‘Harry’.’ A man, ‘Harry’, breaks into a parked car and steals a coat. Intertitle: ‘As days went by Harry was troubled by a guilty conscience.’ Harry enters the Crypt along with a group of other men. A passing policeman looks on. As the others join a service, Harry meets the Church Warden. Intertitle: ‘First steps to a new beginning.’ He accompanies Harry to Leeds City Police Headquarters where Harry confesses his crimes. Harry is asked to empty his pockets which are then checked. Intertitle: ‘We shall have to lock him up, but the fact that you came in on your own will be taken into account.’ Harry is led away. Intertitle: ‘In due course . . .’ Harry is accompanied back to the Crypt from the Police Station by the Church Warden and joins others in digging up the Church grounds. George and the vicar look on. Intertitle: ‘The they showed George the Boys’ Club’ A group of boys bring in another boy, feigning an injury, and are shown how to put his leg in a splint. One of the boys is mocking him. They then watch a boxing match between two boys. Intertitle: ‘This is how the club began.’ ‘The world needs ideas, imagination, energy and leadership. There was plenty nearby . . running to waste.’ A group of boys are playing football in a street, but run off when they see a policeman. One of the boys hits the policeman on the helmet with a catapult. As the policeman chases the boy, the boy’s friends break into the back of a shop. As they make off with their loot, the chasing policeman sees them and catches two of the boys. One of the boys escapes by hiding in a dustbin. Another boy alerts the Church Warden to the policeman who is dragging the boys along the road. Intertitle: ‘The boys went to the police station and were eventually placed on probation.’ The Warden escorts the two boys from Leeds City Police Station. Intertitle: ‘The club grew in numbers and the boys responded to the challenge of responsibility.’ ‘On May 4th 1951 the club premises were opened by the Chief Constable of Leeds.’ Standing behind a desk on a raised platform with the vicar and others, the Chief Constable gives a speach to an assembled room. The Chief Constable then meets a group of the boys. Intertitle: ‘George also heard of ‘William’ who existed like this . . . perhaps to forget that he once had a real home.’ A group of people, including a young man ‘William’, are playing cards for money in a pub. As they leave one of them clears up, and there appears to be a card on the floor (possibly indicating that William was cheating). Intertitle: ‘The Crypt showed William a new way of life and he took it.’ A workman arrives at a house. Intertitle: ‘Kindly employers are found who are glad to co-operate in giving other men a new chance to be of use in the world.’ A respectable looking couple have a meeting with the club organisers. William is then taught how to be a waiter. Intertitle: ‘The work of St George’s is not confined within its walls.’ On a cobbled street corner, a group of children and adults, joined by a policeman and the vicar, have gathered together to sing hymns. The conductor stands on a chair in front of the group. A sign for ‘Hyde Lodge Nursing Home, 52 Clarendon Road’. Two vicars enter the Home to visit a young woman recovering in bed. Intertitle: ‘Many lives are affected and many hearts changed.’ The film then revisits some of the earlier scenes. Intertitle: ‘ . . . and lastly, George himself . . .’ George is again shown leaving home with a parcel from his mother before joining others in a service. George gets up and speaks. Intertitle: ‘This was his testimony: “Twelve months ago I knew nothing of this book which you know so well but since coming to St George’s I have seen it lived out in the Crypt and I now acknowledge the one of whom it speaks as my saviour and friend.” George gives his testimony with a prayer book in his hand. Intertitle: ‘The End, which for so many is really a beginning.’ Context New Lives for Old is one of two films made by Rotherham filmmaker Charles Chislett about St George's Crypt, Leeds, in 1949 and 1951. The earlier one is simply called, St George's Crypt. Chislett was a semi-professional filmmaker from Rotherham who, over a period spanning the years 1930 to 1967, made a considerable number of exceptionally well made films. The Charles Chislett Film Collection held at the YFA consists of nearly 100 films, about half directly relating to Yorkshire, the rest mainly holiday films from around the world. Chislett made many types of films: documentary, fiction, and family portraits. Chislett was an active member of the Pastoral Aid Society (CPAS) and made many films for them, especially of their camps for boys and girls – see Dale Days with CPA. He also made a film of a student at London University College of Divinity, Powerhouse (1948), and another quite different film, also commissioned by the CPAS, Men of Steel (1948). Chislett worked as a bank manager, but he had a great variety of interests and hobbies outside of this. As well as having banking and photography qualifications Chislett was also a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society. He was Secretary of Rotherham Arts Council and Civic Society, and Chaired the Rotherham Celebrity Lectures which he set up and ran. Chislett was very active in the church, and involved in many other charities, raising thousands of pounds. He was also involved in non-charitable organisations in many fields, some reflecting his love of nature. He also wrote a series booklets on some of these topics, including one on William Wilberforce. Charles Chislett would put on film shows for anyone who was interested: at schools, charity organisations, the Chamber of Commerce and literary societies. When showing films Chislett would give a running commentary, varying what he said depending on the audience and situation. By June of 1966 he had received over 900 invitations to lecture to his films. As well as the many films he made for the CPAS he also made industrial films – such as Men of Steel – and very many holiday films from around the world, as far afield as Malaya and Singapore. One of his holiday films, Dale Days, can also be seen on YFAO – and there is more on Charles Chislett and the CPAS in the Context for his other films. The Crypt at St George's Church was converted into a place for the homeless in the 1930s when a new vicar came in, the Rev. Percy Donald Robins (known as ‘Don’), providing food and clothing. In fact Chislett’s first film of St George's Crypt was made with Don in 1948. The Chislett documents held with the YFA has correspondence between the two of them. It also has a copy of the CPAS Journal ‘Church and People’ (March-April 1948) containing a lengthy article by Don on the work of the Crypt, as well as, sadly, an obituary for Don as he died in the February of that year. During the war Don's ministry shifted to the support of those affected by the onset of hostilities and the Night Shelter became an Air Raid Shelter. After the war the Crypt reorientated itself to meet the changing needs from those seeking work to those seeking rehabilitation. Although Don died in 1948 – coincidently the year that the Poor Law Act was finally abolished – the work continued. And in 1954 a half-way house was opened, Faith Lodge; in the words of the CPAS website, ‘between the park bench and a proper home, between prison and a respectable life, and between degradation and self-respect.’ In the first nine months about 50% of the residents were resettled into society. In his article in ‘Church and People’ Don states that as well as helping the men, they also “borrowed” a disused dancing academy for a women and children’s section, where 25 families were fed and clothed each week. As well as simply providing shelter, food and clothing, the film stresses the role of the Crypt in rehabilitation – for those who have strayed into criminality – and of directing otherwise wasted talents. In both Christianity is made central to the process. The work of the Crypt raises issues that remain very much alive. There is one school of thought that sees organised charities as doing more harm than good, in that it potentially detracts from making the political and economic changes necessary to tackle the problems that charities deal with – individual charitable acts being a different matter – and that in an increasingly secular society the connecting of charitable work to religion has become increasingly questionable. Yet most Christians, and those of other religions, maintain that charity is an integral part of what they are about. It has been argued that the very concept of charity arose out of religion, especially Christianity, although it is there in Islam and other religions. Furthermore, the welfare provision of the state has been especially promoted by those having a Christian motivation. This is illustrated in the film when character of George stops to look at the stained glass window with the passage from the New Testament: ‘I was a stranger and ye took me in’, taken from Matthew 25:35 of the King James translation. The context of the passage is the question, who will be chosen on the Day of Judgement? The whole verse is: ‘Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was a hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.’ However, during the nineteenth century, rather than this outreached hand of charity being offered unconditionally to all, it was usually connected to the idea of the ‘deserving’ and ‘undeserving’ poor, and to the notion of ‘self-help’. That is, each individual has to take responsibility for the position they find themselves in – a notion that some have felt has been used to justify the status quo. Historically, the first piece of legislation along these lines, the Charitable Uses Act of 1597, was designed as social engineering in the face of an agricultural and urban crisis. But it is often difficult to separate out these differing motivations: of political expediency, of religious and moral conversion, and of a genuine desire to help those in need. We do not really know whether George has joined the volunteers at the end because of a pure desire to help those in need, or because of benefits to himself – in this life or the next. At any rate, the film can be viewed as exemplifying a paternalistic attitude that might have been more prevalent at that time than it is today. In his article cited above, the Rev, Don Robins claims that, ‘Above all we tried to make those who came to us for help feel that it was not a charity – it was an expression of our family life in God.’ The evidence of the film leaves open how far this was achieved, and how much users were able to retain their dignity. It might be argued that the inequality in position of provider and beneficiary – illustrated in the film by the checking of documentation – naturally produces a psychological inequality between them, perhaps as damaging in its way as the initial material deprivation. Nevertheless, the deprivations that St George’s Crypt was set up to help with are still with us. And the failings of the political and economic system to eradicate these material inequalities are evident in the continued work of the Crypt and many other charities. At the time of writing (May 2009) there are over 187,000 charities registered with the Charity Commission. About 20% of these have a religious, mostly Christian, basis. Some charities, especially those that arose in the 1960s – like Greenpeace, Shelter, and Oxfam – have taken on a more openly political campaigning role. St George’s Crypt has remained true to its initial impulse, stating that it, ‘aims to provide professional standards of care within a framework of Christian faith and witness to the clients, all of whom are treated with dignity and respect, regardless of their age, sex, ethnic origin or religious belief.’ But it has expanded its scope in the interim, with, for example, work with refugees and asylum seekers. Between 1995 and 1999 substantial improvements were made to the buildings, and a new vision was launched in 2000. References KathleenWoodroofe From charity to social work, Routledge, London, 1962. Norris Pope,Dickens and charity, Macmillan, London, 1978. St George’s Crypt website Here one can obtain copies of the CPAS booklet, Entertaining Angels, a people’s history of St George's Crypt.