The Industrial Revolution, meant that Britain was a strong and rich power in the world, as it produced iron, cotton and coal.
Factories increased their employment rates from hundreds to thousands.
Manufacturing business owners prospered, because they aimed to run for profit.
Often children were used, because they didn’t object to their masters and were easily replaced if injured.
It was believed that the poor were to blame for their deprived conditions.
The government and upper classes believed that they should not interfere with the lower classes and their problems.
This attitude reinforced the social divide between the classes, as the poor became poorer.
The majority of Britain faced very poor conditions. They didn’t own their own properties and often lived in squalor conditions. Accommodations were badly built slum houses. They were commonly cold and damp.
Communities were established very close together, which were near to their work. Industrial towns were overcrowded. The streets were muddy and filthy. All these factors contributed to spread of illness and diseases.
Popular jobs were found in factories, mills and mines. Workers received low pay and were expected to work long hours. There were no health and safety laws, like those of today, and workers often risked their lives. Some were able to earn just enough money to support their family with sufficient food, shelter and clothing.
Due to abject poverty and poor social conditions, alcoholism, gambling and violence were prevalent.
Different foundations and schemes were set up to lessen the gap between the social groups.
There were pension schemes and banks to encourage people to save their money and invest in their future.
Charities such as Banardo’s set up children homes and ragged schools (free school) to support the next generation; teaching them and giving them a better way of life.
Also, the religious organisation, the Salvation Army aimed to redirect people to God.
Unfortunately, the charities were often governed by the upper classes and the people were judged according to whether they were deserving enough for charity. As a result, many didn’t receive the help that they needed, because of ingrained prejudices.
The Poor Law Board, decided who would receive ‘relief’.
The majority of people were placed in Workhouses or Poorhouses.
Conditions within such houses were very meagre so that people would only apply to live there if they couldn’t undertake a low paid job.
It was seen as a last resort and was feared by the people, because they knew it was hard to escape.
They were expected to work to earn their stay by performing repetitive and menial tasks.