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Reports from Everywhere - March 1956

ACCRINGTON
Provided the North Western Gas Board with a list of old people known to be living alone so that their gas appliances might be tested, and arranged for an official to visit the Old Folks Club to explain the scheme. This had its sequel when the same official rang up to say they had started on the scheme and that one of their inspectors had been to a house and found three bottles of milk on the doorstep and an old lady in bed upstairs. Could we do anything? We could and did. One of our members went to the house the same day and saw the old lady and her neighbours, but found that the old lady was not neglected in any way nor was her house; her family and her neighbours were looking after her. Why there were three bottles of milk on the doorstep was not explained.

BIRKENHEAD
Occupational therapy is now regarded as an essential factor in the recovery to complete usefulness, in the shortest possible time, of post operation cases. Patients in St. Catherine’s Hospital take lessons, under our care, in weaving, knitting, embroidery, small leatherwork, making and dressing soft dolls and making plastic bracelets and necklets.

EAST GRINSTEAD
A young woman, sent to us by the National Assistance Board with a request for furniture, was visited just before Christmas with some toys for the children. The only furniture in the house was the two beds and the two chairs we had given her. Shortly afterwards a man called at the office, asking, as executor, whether we would receive the residue of the contents of a house for anyone who was in need. The deceased owner had been a member of the Old People’s Welfare Club, and we felt we should help the club first, so one or two oddments were given for the members, but we were able to provide the young woman with four chairs and an armchair, a kitchen cupboard, two tables, a double bed, two mattresses, pillows, bolster, blankets, dressing table, floor rugs, curtains, china, spoons, forks, kitchen ware, brushes, fire-irons, bread crock, baking tins, dishes, etc. When we told the Housing Manager what we had been able to do she said it was the best Christmas present she had ever had, as she was at her wits’ end to know how to help this woman, who was a really deserving case.

HASTINGS
The office was just being closed when an old lady was brought in, having arrived by coach from London and not knowing where she was going. She had no address with her except where she came from in London. The stranger who brought her to us said “ Find W.V.S.—they will be the ones to help ! ” We finally took her to the Police, who promised to find her somewhere for the night. She was collected soon afterwards. The Holiday Home where she had been expected had contacted the Police.

Posted by Matthew McMurray - Royal Voluntary Service Archivist at 09:00 Sunday, 13 March 2016.

Labels: Reports from everywhere, WVS , Accrington, Birkenhead, East Grinstead, Hastings, Gas Board, Occupational Therapy, embroidery, weaving, furniture, holiday

Reports from Everywhere - January 1966

This week we bring you Reports from Everywhere from 50 years ago this month.

Glasgow’s fairy Godmother
When Mr Rio Stakis opened a new night club in Glasgow, he asked his friend Jimmy Logan to do the cabaret. Jimmy agreed but would not accept payment. The outcome was that Mr Stakis gave Jimmy Logan a cheque for £1,500 which he is distributing to charities.  This has meant that within a year Jimmy Logan has presented a second van to Glasgow WVS Centre for use with the Meals on Wheels in the city.

Forget me not

A patient at the Canadian Red Cross Memorial Hospital, Beaconsfield, asked WVS whether our trolley carried a stock of rubber bones, as he wanted to send a present home to her dog. We regretfully had to say that we hadn’t thought of that, but finally the patient bought a rag book, kept it in her bed for a bit so that it would get her scent, and gave it to her husband to take home so that the dog would know she had not forgotten him.

Milkman as go between
On Christmas Day an SOS came to the Centre Organiser of Worthing WVS after an old lady had left a note for her milkman saying that she was very lonely and would he please tell the WVS.  The milkman gave the message to the police who told the Centre Organiser who visited her and tried to arrange for her to have tea with a family who had offered hospitality. However, she could not be persuaded to go. She was visited again and it was realised that she was not really fit enough to be on her own. After getting in touch with her relations arrangements were made for her to be moved to a suitable Home where she is having the care she needs.


Posted by Matthew McMurray, Royal Voluntary Service Archivist at 09:00 Monday, 25 January 2016.

Labels: Glasgow, Reports from Everywhere , WVS , Worthing, Beaconsfield, meals on Wheels , Van, hospitality , Milkman, Jimmy Logan

The story of a magazine

Today Royal voluntary Service has released online its first major digitised collection of material, all 419 issues of the WVS Bulletin. To celebrate, we thought we would take a closer look at the history of the Bulletin.

The WVS/WRVS Bulletin/Magazine is a fantastic and accessible window onto the world of work undertaken by WRVS members over a 36 year period, following the fashion and trends of the periods it describes. Most importantly it is one of the best starting points for discovering more about the amazing work of the Women in Green.

The first issue of the WVS Bulletin was produced in November 1939, just two months after the outbreak of WWII when the WVS had a membership of over 300,000 and a way to communicate with them all directly was sorely needed. The Bulletin was produced every month for 35 years, from 1938-1974 over 419 issues.

The first thirteen issues of the Bulletin were a simple typescript, with the first covering just five sides of foolscap paper, and included news on subjects such as Evacuation, ARP, Transport and Hospital Supplies. It also showed the amazing ability of WVS to attract new members, with 110,000 welcomed in the month of September alone.

From December 1940, the Bulletin became a printed newsletter of eight pages, covering important information for members as well as a way of sharing tips and good ideas pioneered by one WVS centre for replication across the whole country. This reporting of goings on from centres all over Great Britain became a staple of the bulletin, with the ‘From the Centres’ latterly the ‘Reports from Everywhere’ column surviving until the very end of publication.

The first picture (a black and white cartoon from Punch magazine) appeared in February 1942, though pictures were a rare occurrence during the war, the first photograph was not printed until April 1947. While the war had been going on, there had been no need to include adverts, but as funding was reduced post war, it became a necessity.

The first advert appeared in April 1947 (perhaps to pay for the inclusion of the picture!) and was for the Listener Magazine. This was the start of a very long term relationship with the BBC which posted large adverts for its magazines and books in almost every edition of the Bulletin/Magazine after this point. Though initially the adverts were all for the BBC or Information from Government Ministries, the first commercial advert was run for ‘Milton’ (disinfectant) in November 1948. After that the number of commercial adverts increased significantly over the years as the number of pages in the Bulletin grew. By the end of its run in 1974 the WRVS Magazine was regularly 36 pages.

In April 1970 the Bulletin changed its name to the WRVS Magazine, but sadly publication ceased in December 1974. Members had always had to pay for the bulletin themselves with it initially costing one penny per issue. Sadly over time its popularity declined and by the late 1960’s were only printing about 5,000 copies. The price had risen to 50p annually by 1974 and they did not have enough subscribers to make it financially viable.

Posted by Matthew McMurray at 08:00 Thursday, 10 December 2015.

Labels: WVS Bulletin, WRVS Magazine, Newsletter, Communicate, Women in Green, Evacuation, Reports from Everywhere, From the Centres, Adverts

Reports From Everywhere - June 1955

BATH. One of our old ladies who had been visited for a long time by W.V.S. dropped a hint that she had a birthday the following week. This was duly noted by the member and the landlady. Small gifts of candies, biscuits etc. were produced for the great day and they all had tea together. During the little celebration the old lady coyly announced that it was not her birthday at all but she would like to make sure of it now! Tailpiece—she died before her birthday ; she was over 80.

BURTON-ON-TRENT. The Hat Stall. The Matron at the Andressey Hospital approached the leader of the trolley shop to see if it was possible to supply those mental patients who were able to go out with new hats, as the ones they had were getting very shabby. As nothing appears impossible to W.V.S. our leader went to the manager of one of our large stores to see what he could do. He most kindly agreed to help and sent up a large quantity of hats to the hospital and the trolley helpers held an extra session one evening in the women’s sitting room. It was a most exciting and interesting evening. The patients were frightfully thrilled and tried on the hats with great enthusiasm, matching them with their coats, laughing heartily when the hat didn’t suit. They had been saving up for this occasion and thoroughly enjoyed themselves. The helpers and nurses were completely exhausted at the end as there were between fifty and sixty patients. We are wondering what we shall be asked for next.

ESTON (SOUTHBANK). On arriving at the post office one morning the Centre Organiser found a note asking her to telephone a crippled women who wanted W.V.S. help. It was found a self-propelling chair was needed. The Centre Organiser made several enquiries, and then told the woman what to do (all in the same morning). In less than three weeks the woman had been interviewed and examined and found eligible and now, having received the chair, she is so grateful she wants to do shopping for old people not able to do their own.

MORPETH. We have called on 38 old people to see if they need help, and came across many sad cases and some with humorous endings. For example, two poor old sisters over 80 living in most squalid conditions, no bedding, having sold belongings to keep going ; very proud and refusing any help. The National Assistance Board officer was asked to call and the Medical Officer of Health notified. The N.A.B. officer, after a lot of questioning awoke vague memories of money in their minds, and after a lengthy search he and they discovered £400 in notes in an old handbag!

SALISBURY. A little girl, very badly burned was transferred from the Isle of Wight to the plastic ward of Odstock Hospital. W.V.S. Isle of Wight told Southern Region and they passed the message on to South Western Region who asked Salisbury to send a visitor. Within two hours of receiving the request a member was on her way. The child was very ill and of course homesick. Our member quickly established herself as a trusted and beloved “ aunt,” and has been visiting the little girl three or four times a week for more than two months.

Posted by Matthew McMurray at 00:00 Monday, 22 June 2015.

Labels: WVS, WRVS, RVS, Bath, Burton on Trent, Eston, Morpeth, Salisbury, Hospital, old people, hats, Reports from everywhere

Reports from everywhere - April 1945

A small group of rug-makers is meeting twice a week at Grimsby to make rugs for London homeless.

Kingsbridge have started the keeping of certificates for domestic poultry keepers, to obtain wire-netting.

Biggleswade salvage stewards collected 2,500 old ration books during December.

In 1944 a Bath member did 1,170 hours of hospital work, in addition to being a VCP driver, a mobile canteen driver, and a worker in a static Services Canteen.

At Tavistock a WVS member, refusing to be beaten by the weather, went out on a sledge and collected 450 articles for the Re-homing Gift Scheme.

Henley Services canteen recently served 20,714 hot beverages, 249 soft drinks and 21,685 sandwiches during one month.

During the last three years WVS as voluntary telephonists have done 10,000 hours of duty at the Royal Sussex County Hospital.

WVS members at Smethwick have collected 8,400 stamped envelopes and note paper for the use of wounded soldiers when they arrive in hospital, to notify their relatives.

Two National Savings Centres in Islington, entirely staffed by WVS, have during the past three and two years exceeded the £500,000 and £75,000 marks respectively.

An evacuee train en route through Taunton was able to stop only for eight minutes, but WVS managed to get 630 cups of tea and over 900 buns and sandwiches on board, during those few minutes.

The Army Welfare Officer at Peterborough has asked WVS to operate a “Get you Home Scheme” so that men on leave from overseas who are stranded at the stations at night can be taken home by car.

One work party member at Battle, who very specially “mothered” the relays of men manning a searchlight near her home during the fly bomb attacks, now has an average of seven letters a week from her men now serving overseas.

The WVS Village - Representative at Offley recently received a letter of thanks and congratulations from the Regional Commissioner for the “ excellent services ” rendered by herself and helpers when a Rest Centre had to be opened after an explosion resulting from a collision between two motor vehicles.

Bridgewater Welcome Club are very proud of the mural paintings done by one of the American members. D-Day came before he could finish his picture of the main street of the town, which is left incomplete without the Welcome Club. The Club hope he will come back and put in the finishing touches. He, like so many other of his countrymen, will be sure of a grand welcome.

A large number of gifts from Plymouth for the Re-homing Gift Scheme have been received from people who had been bombed-out themselves and whose offerings entailed real sacrifice. One woman gave some things which she had been treasuring in memory of a sister who had been killed in a raid ; she felt she ought no longer to be sentimental and that the things should be used now to help others.

Ipswich have started a salvage “Something for Nothing Scheme” in which small gifts are exchanged for a certain weight of rags or bones. A bead necklace, for instance, can be “bought” for 56 lb of bones, a teapot for 28 lb of rags, a bicycle bell for 56 lb of paper, etc. The response has been so enormous that the prizes have had to be “put up". Recently, in the same borough, a six-feet pile of bones, which had been stewed down for the dogs, was discovered rotting near a dog racing track and immediately collected !