The famous scene played out in A Christmas Carol is Ebenezer Scrooge who has a man come to his door asking for contributions to help the poor. After wondering if they were no prisons Scrooge says:
‘And the Union workhouses.’ demanded Scrooge. ‘Are they still in operation?’
‘They are. Still,’ returned the gentleman,’ I wish I could say they were not.’
This now has much more meaning for my life now. A line in a book decrying the Victorian methods of dealing with the poor and showing the true meaning of Christmas leaves me with a haunting scene of the poor being forced into these work houses, or worse being excluded.
These Union work houses were set up in various parishes around Britain after the 1834 Poor Law was issued. Based on the idea of giving a place for poor people to get on their feet. At the same time it was supposed to also help you avoid staying on the government housing in two methods. One was to make you work so that you developed a work ethic. Second the nature of these places were not considered very nice.
Demeaning might be a nice word.