Humble beginnings and the war


Humble beginnings The W.V.S. was born on the 20 May 1938 and would, over the following 16 months, far outgrow its original purpose, using its unofficial motto of ‘we never say no’.

At the outbreak of war there were over 300,000 members and by November 1941 membership had exceeded one million. It was these women, armed with their organisation and practicality, who enabled W.V.S. to react quickly and effectively, and allowed W.V.S. to develop and provide help in almost every aspect of life in wartime Britain. By 1941 W.V.S. had just short of two thousand W.V.S. centres spread across the country, with one in almost every town.

The services provided by these W.V.S. centres were numerous and varied. Their first task was to evacuate mothers and children, which tested their resilience. But it would be a role which would prove their worth and be a continuing occupation throughout the war.

"The strength of W.V.S. is not in its hands but in its heart, not in its head but in its understanding. It is not something you can record on paper, it is intangible."

Lady Reading


Logo 1938

Royal Voluntary Service Women wanted