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Position of WVS members to Political Work

Recently I have been cataloguing the Circular Notices which were produced by WVS and WRVS between 1938 and 1974. It is interesting what is contained within these files and what they tell us about the inner workings of WVS and WRVS. One such notice I came across was related to the General Election in 1945. Royal Voluntary Service, even when it was a Crown Service, has never been a political organisation and in this week’s blog we will discuss that neutral status as well as the circular notice I discovered.

The origins of the WVS are slightly complicated and it is unclear whose idea it was to start an organisation to recruit and train women in ARP roles in 1938. What we do know is that it was Lady Reading founded an organisation which would continue to grow through the Second World War in number and scope. In the beginning it was suggested that work with the Home Office; it originally operated as a Crown Service with a grant of around £15,000 a year from Government. However WVS was not a political organisation and Lady Reading aimed to keep it as independent as possible from Government.

In its first seven years WVS worked under a coalition Government, the General Election which was due in 1940 was not held because of the Second World War. However in 1945 Churchill called a General Election which he and the Conservatives lost to Clement Atlee and the Labour Party. As mentioned above WVS was not a political organisation and in Circular Notice CN.A.9/45 Position of WVS members to Political Work 14.5.45 Headquarters sent out the following information to members.

The position of WVS members in regard to undertaking work for the political parties was recently considered at a conference at Headquarters at which representatives from all the regions were present. It was the opinion of the conference that members of the WVS playing any part in Party Politics and Local Government Elections must do so in a private capacity and not in uniform and this is the general ruling which has been adopted.

It is, of course, of first importance that the Non-Party character of WVS should be maintained, and the following questions and answers have been framed to give guidance on political points which may arise. Each member is asked to observe the regulations laid down, but, more than that, it will depend on the good judgement and taste, and personal integrity of every member whether Non-party character of the WVS can be preserved in the spirit as well as in the letter, when elections take place in this country.

CN.A.9/45 Position of WVS members to Political Work 14.5.45

The Questions and answers included the following:

Parliamentary Elections

Q.3. Can a Candidate who is elected resume her WVS work?

A. No. It is in the in the interests of the nation that she devotes herself to her Parliamentary duties.

Q.8. Can WVS members who are doing political work during an election wear their uniform or badge?

A. During an election period WVS members may wear their uniform and/or badge when they are doing their WVS work, but neither uniform nor badge must be worn while doing political work or attending meetings.

Other Points

Q.2. What is the position regarding WVS offices etc., in premises belonging to political parties?

A. These offices should be vacated and others found to replace them as soon as possible.

CN.A.9/45 Position of WVS members to Political Work 14.5.45

If you would like to know which other questions were included please contact our enquiry service.

The similar information was produced in the Bulletin in October 1951 another election year.

Over the years WVS and WRVS continued to promote it's non-party status to members. In 1992 WRVS became a Charity it was no longer a Crown Service and began to find ways to fundraise for itself, it also remained politically neutral. Today Royal Voluntary Service as well as providing services for older people also works on a national level to raise awareness of the issues older people face. We do this through our media campaigns and research.

Posted by Jennifer Hunt, Deputy Archivist at 09:00 Monday, 05 June 2017.

Labels: General Election, Politics, WVS, WRVS, Royal Voluntary Service

Inspiring Volunteers

Volunteers' Week takes place on 1st to 7th June and is dedicated to celebrating the fantastic contribution made by millions of volunteers across the country. In this week’s blog I thought we would celebrate the contribution made by millions of volunteers for nearly 80 years through WVS/WRVS/Royal Voluntary Service. Over the years these volunteers haven’t just made a contribution to the UK but have inspired volunteering across the globe; one example is the Home Help Service.

In 1944 the WVS Centre Organiser for the City of Oxford, Theresa MacDonald, asked the Local Authorities permission to pioneer a new scheme, Home Helps. Its purpose was to work alongside and form an attachment with the Local Health Services. At first it dealt with maternity as its top priority and then concerned itself with old people as well as chronic cases. Eventually the Helps took on any cases which were a health emergency.

As a public health service, Home Helps took on jobs such as washing, cooking and child care. They were employed by the Local Authority but administration was in the hands of a voluntary organiser. The WVS trained the Helps and promoted the scheme, at first very little formal training was given but later Helps could work towards the National Institute of Houseworkers’ Diploma.

In 1946 WVS opened a Home Helps Department at headquarters in London and used its network to publicise the scheme. The department also ran residential training for Home Help Organisers. Different local schemes added their own flare to training meetings including celebrations such as Christmas, birthday and anniversary parties. Buckinghamshire went further and held a county rally for its Home Helps. When the National Health Service Act (1948) came into force the Ministry of Health stated that Home Helps was vital to the new service. Many Health Services however wanted to take full control of the scheme. In some areas the WVS remained very involved with Home Helps, though over the years many handed over to Local Authorities and paid organisers.

It’s interesting what can motivate you to do research, recently I was reading a novel set in in Italy in 1945 so I wondered what connections WVS had with the country. Sure enough we had a file titled Italy in the Central Registry Series. In this file I came across a report titled Milan Italy which discusses the Associazione Amici Buona Causa, the literal translation Friends of a Good Cause, the Italian version of Home Helps.

Originally this service focused on urgent or needful cases such as maternity and sudden illness but had not really focused on older people who might need regular visits. It’s development pretty much mirrored the WVS Home Helps. In 1956 Donna Ina Gallaritti Scotti who worked with the Associazione Amici Buona Causa travelled to England to research how Home Helps assisted older people in their own homes and talk with WVS about their work. Her main objective was to attend the Home Helps Conference which was attended by WVS members representing their local authorities. It was also attended by the Public Assistance Minister from Rome which, she felt, would aid her cause back in Milan. During her visit to Britain she spoke with the Older People’s Welfare Department at Headquarters who provided information about the costs of their various services. She was very impressed and felt able to carry out this work when she returned to Italy.

WVS continued to run this service but by 1964 only a few WVS run schemes remained in counties such as Cornwall, Worcestershire and East and West Sussex. Home Helps was finally wrapped up in 1974 with the closure of the final scheme in East Sussex. However it inspired many other services which still continue such as Good Neighbours and befriending.

Thank you to all our past and present volunteers for being so inspiring not just on volunteers' week but in the past, present and future.

Posted by Jennifer Hunt, Deputy Archivist at 09:00 Monday, 29 May 2017.

Labels: Home Helps, WVS, WRVS, Good Neighbours, Older People's Welfare, Italy

Archives and education – it doesn’t just have to be about history

Part of an archivist role is to allow access to the archives they care for, one way of doing this is through outreach work. As many of you will know here we run a remote enquiry service and cannot allow the public physical access to our records however we still manage to provide outreach through online educational resources. Over the years I have found that a lot of archive outreach programmes focus on history but if in theory we don’t keep archives for historical purposes why should we only promote them in teaching that subject? Last year we launched the Voices of Volunteering School Resources; they aim to provide learning materials for educators teaching a variety of subjects and skills.

Using our resources can actively help pupils to take part in volunteering and learn how to be good citizens and improve society. Firstly pupils learn about the role of Royal Voluntary Service today caring for older people through the memories of volunteers recorded in oral histories. The other resource discusses how in the 1990s WRVS moved from a Crown Service to a Charity and how volunteers started to fundraise in their local areas. They aim to encourage pupils to raise money for the charity in schools. It also uses some recipes from the Bulletin, volunteers and Civil Defence Cards to inspire ideas. Both resources focus on Citizenship, English and volunteering using archives and teaches skills such as planning, collaboration, problem solving, advocacy, campaigning and evaluation.  

The second set of lesson plans encourages students to get involved in debates surrounding volunteering and citizenship by using oral histories to highlight volunteers opinions and experiences. The debates include:    

  • Why do people volunteer?   
  • What are the benefits of volunteering?      
  • How has it evolved in over 75 years?

You might be thinking these resources just give students basic comprehension skills listen to a few short clips and then answer some questions. However they are more exciting than that; they allow pupils to interpret, discuss and debate helping them to form their own opinions on how we can improve society.

For example we have one resource titled “How does volunteering enhance your life as a volunteer?” This  uses  volunteers'experiences of working in different  WRVS services including Meals on Wheels and Hospital Canteens. Using these archives pupils on the roles of different types of active or potential volunteers:

They then debate the following topic:

Afterwards pupils reflect on the different interpretations of the situation and come to a conclusion about how volunteering can enhance people's lives. Using oral histories in this way teaches:

Citizenship
KS3:To describe the roles played by voluntary groups in society, and the ways in which citizens work together to improve their communities

KS4: To describe the different ways in which a citizen can contribute to the improvement of his or her community

GCSE AQA English

To respond to the questions and views of others, adapting talk appropriately to context and audience.  

As you can see Archives can be used in different ways in outreach programmes in a verity of subjects and not just to answer set questions.  

You can see how we’ve used archives to teach secondary school and further education students about a other topics including: PHSE, drama, volunteering and history on our Voices of Volunteering resource site.

Posted by Jennifer Hunt, Deputy Archivist at 09:00 Monday, 15 May 2017.

Labels: Archives, Education, Oral history, WRVS, Royal Voluntary Service, Voices of Volunteering

Equality for all through actions

It’s interesting what you find when researching for an enquiry even if Lincolnshire and the Women’s Liberation movement are two different things. Finding the Bulletin article below got me thinking about Feminism and WVS/WRVS.

Feminism first appeared in the mid nineteenth century focusing on the promotion of equal contract, marriage, parenting, and property rights for women. It moved on to focus on women’s suffrage and rights which continued into the Twentieth Century. However by the time WVS was founded in 1938 the first wave of feminism had died down; possibly calmed by the role many women played in factories and other traditional men’s roles in World War I and some women obtaining the right to vote in 1918. In my mind WVS/WRVS was never a feminist organisation but a women’s organisation. It never really suited the definition of the ideological and political movement but it was one which used women’s skills to improve the lives of everyone in Britain. During the War WVS took roles in Evacuation, Hospital Supplies, Make do and mend, knitting and many others which used skills traditionally taken on by women in their homes. However some roles such as fire watching had been assigned to the ARP whose reluctance to include women in a way led to the establishment of WVS.

These less traditional roles appeared only to last as long as the War; the re-emergence of Civil Defence in the late 1940s early 1950s didn’t lead to a revival for WVS who took on the Welfare section. Some services they provided were different such as training in what to do if there was a nuclear attack or driving in the Food Flying Squad but they weren’t promoting a political ideology or actively campaigning for women’s rights. In a way WVS did more without having a political cause because they actively changed people’s lives through their actions and gave women a voice through volunteering.

The second wave of feminism came along in the 1970s along with the Women’s Liberation movement campaigning to make women equal to men and give them more control over their lives. WRVS at this time was still striving to make British society a better place for all. The Organisation focused on offering care to those who needed it either on a regular basis or during an emergency. They were also providing children with the opportunity to go on holiday when they might never have got the chance; patients in psychiatric hospitals were also benefiting specially designed canteens/shops to help rehabilitate them in the outside world and those with disabilities were given the chance to progress in the world of work with occupational therapy. However one member must have felt inspired by this new wave as she wrote an article in the WRVS Magazine; though as she says it was an unorthodox contribution.

WRVS Magazine No.377 June 1971

In short although WVS/WRVS wasn’t known for being a feminist or political organisation in its own special and of course unique way it strived to make everyone equal. Today Royal Voluntary Service continues working to help create a society where everyone feels valued and involved whatever their age.

Posted by Jennifer Hunt, Deputy Archivist at 09:00 Monday, 01 May 2017.

Labels: WVS, WRVS, Feminism, Women's Liberation, Royal Voluntary Service, Bulletin

Eggs, hot cross buns, daffodils and the WVS/WRVS

We hope you enjoy these extracts from the WVS Bulletin and WRVS Magazine which include WVS activities, easter traditions and recipes.

Firstly I would like to make a bid for the earliest mention of Christmas in 2017 with this Bulletin from January 1946.

                                              

The WVS worked closely with refugees from Holland during the war and established a sister organisation the Dutch UVV and  worked with them in April 1948.

IT IS ABOUT two years since the arrival of the first of the long line of Mobile Canteens which W.V.S. so generously gave to its sister organisation, the Dutch U.V.V., after the liberation of Holland. We here in Arnhem were so fortunate as to get the first two. The first arrived a few days before Christmas from Newcastle-on-Tyne, and was immediately put to work on distribution to the aged poor of loaves of sultana bread, a Yuletide speciality in Holland. …

During the bulb season the mobile canteens were used to distribute Easter eggs and daffodils to the aged, and as the bulb growers in the West had given us such tremendous quantities of flowers, we saved a canteen load of them for the Airborne Cemetery.

Over ten years later in April 1959 WVS volunteers were still hard at work.

NORWICH. This Easter we had a pleasant surprise. The staff in our building collected fresh eggs to be distributed to all the old people on the Meals-on-Wheels round.

Also published were a series of Easter Traditions in an article entitled The Egg The Hare and The Hot Cross Bun. You can read the article in full in the Bulletin from April 1963 but here is a short extract.

[T]he hot cross bun. I always assumed that the cross on the bun was a purely Christian symbol, but now I learn that it probably dates back long before that. Little crosses used to be put on cakes made for the worship of the goddess Diana, and it seems possible that the wheaten cakes known to have been eaten at pagan Spring festivals bore the same mark. Our hot cross buns have probably got a much longer history than we imagine.

Incidentally, there is one delightful individual custom associated with hot cross buns which takes place in an inn in London. In the early nineteenth century the licensee put aside one hot cross bun every Good Friday for her son who was away at sea. But one year he did not return. His mother didn't give up hope, but continued each year to replace the old bun with a new one, keeping the old ones in a basket. When new tenants took over the inn they continued to do this, and now there is a clause in the lease of the inn to enforce it.

Finally as we haven't posted any for a while a recipe for Easter Biscuits from April 1972:

12 oz. Plain flour
pinch of salt
6 oz. Butter or margarine
4 oz. Caster sugar
1 Egg
3 oz. Currants
Pinch of saffron, steeped for a few hours in 1 tablespoon milk,
Egg white and caster sugar for finish.

MethodCream the fat and sugar Beat in the eggAdd the currants and saffron mixtureFold in the flour, sifted with the salt, using a metal spoon The dough should be softer than for pastry, but firm enough to roll Kneed lightly and roll out on a floured board to 1/8 inch in thickness Cut in rounds, using a fluted cutterPut on a baking sheet and bake for approx. 20 minutes at 400°f-Mark 6 After 10 minutes in the oven, remove the biscuits, brush with egg white and dredge with caster sugarReturn to the oven for remainder of baking time Cool on a cooling tray Store in an airtight tin.

All our Bulletins and Magazines written between 1939 and 1974 (over 419 Issues) are available to download on our online catalogue. Why not search Easter in the Bulletin Text field for more extracts like these.

Posted by Jennifer Hunt, Deputy Archivist at 09:00 Monday, 17 April 2017.

Labels: Easter, WRVS, eggs, daffodils, Dutch, WVS

The Women of Wedmore

“What is this I hear about Sir Samual Hoare wanting us women to help the menfolk at their ARP?”

“Funny” said the friend “I was thinking about the same thing. You know I think Sir Sam has got his head screwed on the right way. What sort of missus has he got? If this ARP business should become a serious affair, I guess we women folk will have to lend a hand if it’s ever going to be any sort of a success.”

two women from Wedmore 1938.

It’s funny that after working here for nearly five years I still discover new, interesting and exciting documents in the collection. The quote above comes from a booklet The Women of Wedmore; Wedmore is a village in Somerset but the booklet was in a file for Gloucestershire which is probably why I haven’t noticed it before and I was actually looking for information on Blood Donners. This village was part of Axbridge Rural District and the services provided by its Wedmore members included: canning jam, camouflage netting, clothing and the rural pie scheme. However the booklet describes the Housewives Service as their main focus.

The object of the Housewives Service was to equip housewives with the knowledge to deal with first aid in an emergency. In 1942 30 women joined the Housewives Service in Wedmore, many stayed the course and were presented with a blue window card; the head housewives received a red one. After their training the women of Wedmore did not just sit around waiting for an emergency they were extremely active. Activities included monthly meetings, full blown invasion exercises, lectures on Gas, high explosive bombs, fire-fighting etc, jumble sales for Wings Week, collecting books and magazines for convalescents and towards the end of the war preforming as the Housewives’ Players. Indeed the Head Housewife was so busy she had to upgrade from walking everywhere to a bicycle and then a “lordlylike progress into a bath-chair (broken leg); this progress was achieved at the cost of much muscular power on the part of many pushing people”.

The women of Wedmore continued to deliver WVS services after the war. In January 1952 the Mercury and Somersetshire Herald reported that 100 Wedmore WVS members ran a rest centre exercise taking “evacuees” from a “bombed out Bristol”. It was still a very active area in the 1960s providing refreshments at a Darby and Joan Club rally for 500 club members from all over Somerset in 1963. In the 1970s due to changes in the WRVS’s administration the village of Wedmore was absorbed into the Mendip district office. However, the district as a whole continued their important work into the 1980s with services such as Books on Wheels, hospitals, Meals on Wheels, Lunch Clubs and Clubs for Older People to name a few. They even rehomed Budgies, the district Organiser remarked that “if it had been green … I’d have asked him to sign an enrolment card. There are often a few times when I would find a pair of wings useful”.

As you can see the story of the Women of Wedmore, Axbridge Rural in Somerset is a very interesting one which was focused on helping people in the community. Today the Royal Voluntary Service in Somerset assists older people in their community with older people's welfare and hospitals.

Posted by Jennifer Hunt, Deputy Archivist at 09:00 Monday, 13 March 2017.

Labels: women, Wedmore , Somerset , Axbridge , WVS , WRVS , Royal Voluntary Service

Being bold for change since 1938

Wednesday 8th March is International Women’s Day which celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievement of women across the world. Royal Voluntary Service was founded in 1938 by one of the twentieth century’s most influential but seldom celebrated women Lady Reading; a woman who inspired others to make changes to British Social welfare even after her death in 1971. There isn’t simply enough time in a weekly blog to mention the millions of women who have been bold and changed Britain, with hundred even thousands of activities, but what we will focus on is how they have improved the welfare of psychiatric patients over the years.

It all began in 1946 when members of WVS Headquarters in London made investigations into helping people with mental illnesses in psychiatric hospitals. Once again WVS was one step ahead of everyone else. In 1948 the organisation was officially asked by the Board of Control to assist in hospitals providing much needed services. It became the mission of volunteers to improve the lives of patients and provide them with a connection with the outside world. In 1959 the Mental Health Act was passed it abolished the distinction between psychiatric units and other hospitals while encouraging the development of community care. This allowed the WVS to establish more occupational centres, providing training especially to help patients find occupations after being discharged. Over the years WVS/WRVS ran a number of services in psychiatric wards which ran in general hospitals and other wards which you can find more details on in our Health and Hospitals Factsheet. However their main project was to build social centres for patients and visitors.

Thirty Social Centres were established in the 1960s including St Francis Hospital Hillingdon, Friern Barnet, St Luke’s Middlesbrough St John’s Bracebridge Heath. St Francis was the first to be opened in 1961 by Princess Maria of Kent. The site was purpose built with kitchen, shop, canteen, lounge and entertainment space. It added a new dimension to hospital life as patients could assist WVS with their work and spend money how they liked in the shop building confidence. This inspired the 30 other projects which were funded through loans and repaid with the profits from the canteens and shops, though St Francis was the most pioneering. A few years after it’s opening there was a parliamentary debate discussing the lack of volunteering opportunities for young people. Lady Reading, then a member of the House of Lords, proposed that St Francis needed a swimming pool to benefit patients and staff which led to an International Volunteer Camp in 1966. Hundreds of young volunteers from Mid-Sussex and Europe met to dig the swimming pool. Once again WVS/WRVS had been a force for change which continued into the 1980s.

Although these schemes were mainly setup in the 1960s, in 1989 there was a fire at Bromham Hospital in Bedfordshire, the WRVS shop and canteen was destroyed. However Barbara Statham Bedfordshire Hospital Organiser and her team rebuilt the shop despite some adversities, here is her story:

Today Royal Voluntary Service aims remain the same to stop isolation and loneliness; build up confidence, and educate the public. A big thank you to all our volunteers past and present who have been bold for change and improved the lives of everyone

Posted by Jennifer Hunt, Deputy Archivist at 09:00 Monday, 06 March 2017.

Labels: Bold for Change, International women's day, psychiatric, hospitals, WVS, WRVS

On the map

While this is a very modern collection there is still an amazing variety of material held within the store rooms. On several occasions in the recent past I have come across an assortment of maps from those detailing the different regional boundaries of the WVS Regions to a hand drawn map of Cardiff showing the locations of Lunch Clubs. This week I’d like to take you on a journey using this iconography to explain what they tell us about Royal Voluntary Service and how maps can be used to complement other historical evidence.

Inside the Roll of Honour is a beautifully illustrated map of the British Isles divided into the 12 WVS Regions created for the purpose of Civil Defence. Neatly written on each region is the location of the Regional Office including among others Edinburgh, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Nottingham, Reading, Bristol and Cardiff. However it doesn’t tell us the individual centres, we must rely on the Narrative Reports and the Statistic Books 1943-1945 to give us this information. The map allows us to visualise their location within the organisational structure of WVS during the War. It also tells us that at some point after the War there was a change to the organisational structure, Region 5 (London) became Region 12 (Kent, East Sussex, West Sussex and Surrey) because although on the Map London is Region 5 in the Narrative Report Series it comes under Region 12. Unfortunately we don’t know when this happened and there are no more maps for this time period however we can show you other changes in the 1970s and 1980s.

In 1974 the WRVS reorganised itself along Local Authority County boundaries and setup district offices replacing some of the centres or making them into local offices. However, a few years earlier Cardiff WRVS decided to have its own reorganisation as demonstrated in the hand drawn map accompanying this article. In 1969 the city was divided into six areas where WRVS volunteers would work with other local organisations to run services for older people. The map shows that there is an all-day centre in each division providing a base for the area organisers. It also shows where Social Clubs, Lunch Clubs and Old People’s Homes were based within the different divisions. It also gives us an idea of the area run by Cardiff WRVS and where the volunteers were working. Although we might have to compare it with an official map or the rest of the Regional office papers it lives with to find the names of the places and services but what it does show is how much effort volunteers put into their services and the different ways they visualised their organisation.

In 2012 another map made its way into are collection all be it on an unusual canvas; a hand painted china plate by Muriel Humphrey. It was presented to Lady Elizabeth Toulson on her visit to Cambridge in 1994. It depicts the different services including: toy libraries; hospital trolley shops; clothing and Meals on Wheels. In the centre is a map of Cambridgeshire in the Home Counties Division which was created in 1980 to align with changes to Local Authorities. Other maps in the collection show these new divisions and areas for the whole of Britain. These new divisions replaced the regions mentioned above moving from twelve to nine: North West, North East, Midlands, Home Counties, South East, South West, London, Scotland and Wales. Using both maps and the Narrative Reports helped me to work out the plate which in its small map outlines five districts within Cambridgeshire part of Area 1 in the Home Counties. The districts are Peterborough, Fenland, East Cambridgeshire, South Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire. The city of Cambridge is also included and slightly elevated.

Sadly our journey, traversing the maps of the Royal Voluntary Service Archive & Heritage Collection is over. I trust that I have shed light on how important these alternative drawings of our nation are in telling the story of an organisation in a very visual sense. Hopefully you will continue your journey to learn more about the history of Royal Voluntary Service by regularly visiting this blog until next week adjure.

Posted by Jennifer Hunt, Deputy Archivist at 10:00 Monday, 30 January 2017.

Labels: Map, Wales, Cambridge, WVS, Royal Voluntary Service, WRVS

Pies and Poems

There are two ways the blog could have gone this week instead I thought I would try and cover both elements in the title as we haven’t really looked either of them before. Let’s start with Pies ...

23 January is National Pie Day, why not celebrate by making a ham and egg pie from this wartime recipe.

Ham and Egg Pie 
 
1 good slice chopped raw ham        1/2lb short crust pastry
2 dried eggs, reconstituted                1 tomato sliced
Salt and pepper
  

Line a plate with pastry, trim and decorate the edges. Put on the chapped ham. Beat the egg well, season, and pour over the ham. Decorate with tomato slices. Bake in hot oven 20-20 minutes (Regulo Mark 7). Reduce the heat when the pastry begins to brown and allow the custard to cook slowly.  

Rotherham Food Advisory Bureau 1943 , WRVS/HQ/PUB/PUB/F-43-003  
                                       

WVS did not just suggest recipes for pies while many ingredients were rationed, they also ran the Rural Pie Scheme. Millions of pies and snacks were distributed to agricultural workers during the war to around 2750 villages each month from 1941-1945. The scheme was first introduced in Cambridge by WVS volunteers who wanted to help agricultural workers because they were on rations and in need of a good midday meal, so they started with meat pies. The Scheme was soon picked up by the Ministry of Food and spread all over the country, in some areas the WI was also involved. Often pies were distributed by a WVS driver from a depot or they were homemade by volunteers. Pies were delivered in many different ways, in Frodsham Cheshire for example the WVS trekked across the Marshes to provide pies to farmers; in Kent they were delivered in a mobile canteen to Hop pickers.  Though some, as in the image above with two Land Girls, recieved their pies by tricycle. So while you enjoy your pie remember the hard work of the WVS to feed a nation.

If poetry is more your thing you may be partaking in a Burns Super this week; Burns Night on 25th January a celebration of the Life and Poetry of Robert Burns, WVS/WRVS volunteers were very fond of poetry as well as writing their own on the back of Narrative Reports, some were sent in to the Bulletin or even received from those who had benefited from services provided by the organisation. This is one of my favourites about the One-in-Five Scheme, perhaps you will be inspired to write a poem about Royal Voluntary Service.

“Gather your hearers while you may,
Old time is still a-flying
 If you don’t get them day by day,
You’ll be forever trying  

For you, unless you look alive
And have your talks in plenty,
Will never get your One-in-Five,
Or even one in twenty!  

So be not coy, but do your best
Your backlog to diminish,
For if you once should lose your zest
You’ll never, never finish.”

WVS Bulletin, One-In-Five, June 1962, p.14

Posted by Jennifer Hunt, Deputy Archivist at 09:00 Monday, 23 January 2017.

Labels: Pie, Poem, WVS, WRVS, National Pie Day, Burns Night

Use your imagination and your vision


We fast approach the end of another year, a year which has been one of success for the Archive. As many of our readers would have witnessed we heavily promoted our Kickstarter Campaign Hidden histories of a million wartime women in May. With the help of 705 backers £27,724 was raised to digitise the many stories written by volunteers over 70 years ago in the form of Narrative Reports. The process has now begun to bring these stories to you and you can keep up to date with the project by following our Facebook and Twitter pages, joining our heritage bulletin mailing list or regularly visiting our Kickstarter page for the Friday update.
 
Our final blog for the year comes from part of Lady Reading’s Christmas Message written in 1955; I believe it highlights how important it is for us not to forget the past, how we need to be practical in going forward and relates to sharing hidden histories. I hope you enjoy.

Lady Reading's Christmas Message to WVS 1955

“As one Christmas follows another, it is ever more difficult to find the right present to send to you, and so, I send this year, the means, hidden and unsuspected, of gauging, watching and guarding the precious thing which is in your keeping.

I believe that we, workers in Voluntary Service, are today enjoying the endowment bestowed on us by the previous generations, enriched by their outlook and strengthened by their experience. And I want to ask you whether you will, this Christmastide, pause and examine this thing we call Voluntary Service, for it is ours to enhance during the time it is in our keeping, and it is for us to hand on in perfect and ever better shape.

We live in an age where allegory and parable appear to be out of date, but, to my mind, they are not only the best way of teaching but, for oneself, they offer an infinite joy in the companionship of one's own mind. And so I hand into your possession the power with which to examine this thing that is in your trust, charging you to use your imagination and your vision to appraise it, to weigh it, and, above all, to treasure it.”

It’s the Job that Counts Vol II

Posted by Jennifer Hunt, Deputy Archivist at 09:00 Monday, 26 December 2016.

Labels: Lady Reading, WRVS, Imagination, Kickstarter, Hidden History, Million Women