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Time on your hands?

In the early 1970s WRVS were trying new ways to attract younger volunteers within the 20-35 age bracket. A new initiative was setup, Evening Centres, usually run in existing WRVS centres where they led monthly meetings to help attract younger members to take on WRVS services in their spare time after work or study. As it is St Andrew’s Day on Wednesday I thought we would look at the work of these centres in Scotland between 1971 and 1974.

In 1971 London Headquarters established the Evening Members Department and corresponded with the Scottish Headquarters in Edinburgh to establish centres in the Large Burghs such as Dundee, Aberdeen and Adinburgh. Perth and Glasgow were not included in the original correspondence; the Chairman of Scotland presumed the exclusion of Glasgow was an ‘oversight’ but was later informed that Glasgow had already agreed with London to start a centre. Perth even before the centres already carried out evening work had recruited three volunteers aged 25-35 but had to put them in the Saturday Meals on Wheels round. They were very keen to find them evening work although there were very few activities for them.

Once founded Evening Centres in Scotland were a success, take Glasgow for example, in June 1972 a member of the Evening Centres Department in London visited to help set up a centre in the city it started with an organiser (ECO), two assistants and four members. By the end of the year the centre had 56 members with 20-30 turning up to regular monthly meetings and taking on services such as flower arranging, hospital visiting, nurses libraries, good companions and emergencies. Glasgow were also looking to the future of the evening centre wanting to expand into visiting residential homes and taking up public speaking to recruit more members for the endless number of house holders who needed a good companion.

In order to expand all these services more members are required and it seems evident that the ECO will have to take up public speaking! This may or may not be a good thing for WRVS, however, we are willing to try, and to this end have accepted an invitation to speak on ‘the work of the WRVS Evening Centre and the role of the volunteer within it’ to young people interested in the Community Service Section of the Duke of Edinburgh’s (Gold) Award, Start praying!

Glasgow Evening Centre Report 1972

There isn’t much information about the centres after 1974, perhaps a quest for another day is for me to research some of the other regions in Britain to find the answer. Watch this space...

Posted by Jennifer Hunt, Deputy Archivist at 09:00 Monday, 28 November 2016.

Labels: Evening Centre, WRVS, Scotland, Glasgow, Perth, St Andrew's Day