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1st October is International Older People’s Day so to celebrate let’s take a look at one of the ways Royal Voluntary Service has forged friendships since the 1970s.
Since the 1970s Royal Voluntary Service has been running Good Companion services across the country. They may have changed their name over the years including Good Neighbours and Befriending but the premise has remained the same, to alleviate loneliness and encourage people to help others in their local community.
In Cheshire the scheme tried to get off the ground in Stockport in 1971, the County Borough Organiser has appeared to spend the first few months trying to find volunteers to take on the scheme. However she succeeded in recruiting volunteers for Meals on Wheels instead. Later on the organiser asked to be excused form the piolet as many women in the area were already being “Good Neighbours” under visiting or local council services. This was the case for many areas across the country.
Other areas of Cheshire however appeared to have more success with the scheme, Alsager reported that “At Present a list of old people in need of visits is being drawn up and many members have undertaken to visit.” By 1972 Sale WRVS were also making progress with the Good Companion Scheme and requested 30 record cards in March for members visiting older people under the scheme. By 1973 both schemes were official with another starting in Congleton, Alderly Edge appeared to have an unofficial visiting scheme for residents in a local nursing home and Ramsbottom were interested in starting a scheme for the disabled. So despite the initial hiccups Cheshire really started to embrace the scheme in the mid-1970s.
In the 1980s and 1990s these services were often referred to as Visiting throughout Cheshire including Congleton, Chester, Crew and Nantwich. In June 1980 it was reported that Nantwich had a member who visited an “old lady every evening winter and summer to fill her hot water bottle for a bit of comfort”. Once again proving no job was too big or too small for WRVS.
Over the years this service has allowed people to stay independent and continue to live in their own homes. Volunteers often escort people on outings, go shopping, collect pensions, send post, mend clothes, change lightbulbs, cook, and do other odd jobs around the home as well as taking time to talk to the person they were visiting. Today volunteers are still making friends in the North, running Good Neighbour Schemes including the Brightlife Buddy Scheme in Cheshire West.
In archives there is always a crew of Archivists and volunteers working below decks to bring you buried treasure. Here at the Royal Voluntary Service Archive & Heritage collection it is no different and recently we dug up some more of our archives and hoisted them on to our online catalogue for you landlubbers, why not take a look through the telescope at:
The stories of volunteers from 1938-2015 in their own words, find out what it was like to be a WVS/WRVS volunteer by listening to:
Judith Kenna chat about clothing stores in Cheshire and Leicestershire
Maureen Hall discuss taking the members of a Darby and Joan Club on holiday
Ann Greeves harks back to tea bars at Royal Sussex Hospital
Kathleen Ashburner tell the story of the autumn club she ran for 45 years
Jenny Hincks reminisce about Meals-on-Wheels rounds
Alison Findlay talk about the Perth Floods of 1993
There are now another 388 photos from our collection dating from c1990 to 2013 these include:
Delivering a meal by helicopter to St. Michael's Mount, Cornwall. Taken on 06/10/1999
An event for National Meals on Wheels Day volunteers delivered Meals by helecopter. The phot was published in Action Magazine in 1999.
Aye the ship’s crew has more to add so keep a look out.
WRVS Association News
Take a gander copies of the WRVS Association News from 1975-2013, they reveal all the activities of the WRVS Association an organisation for retired members of WRVS formed in 1973. In November 1975 they reported that:
Members may like to know that at WRVS Headquarters in the Archives Department there are now many items of historical interest, as well as reports and letters of importance. The members of the Department would be delighted to show them to any members of the Association who would care to see them. It is possible that some Association members may hold letters or reports of their own which are of lasting interest, and WVS/WRVS Association would be very glad to have then if they can be spared.
Local Office Material
Over the last few years our crew have been busy cataloguing records from local offices in different areas of Great Britain. Now you can search the material we hold on Ipswich WVS/WRVS on our online catalogue including theEmergency Services Suitcase from the 1980s pictured here which would have contained paperwork, tabards and many other things ready for any emergency in the area.
Next time we reveal more of our gold we hope to make our local office material for the North East of England available to search.
You can search our treasure trove at catalogue.royalvoluntaryservice.org.uk/calmview
Tomorrow is Roald Dahl Day, celebrating the birthday of world’s greatest story teller who also wrote Revolting Recipes so this week we thought we would share some wonderful WVS recipes from September 1949.
Rice, is a good meal extender but do see it is properly cooked. A most enjoyable breakfast dish is Rice and Grilled Sausage. Then there are soups, infinite in variety-and thick soups particularly come into their own at this time of year. Here are suggestions for current menus :
FRENCH LENTIL SOUP
1/2 lb. Lentils 1 tin Tomatoes
1 Onion Piece of Margarine
Pepper and Salt Parsley, chopped
Soak lentils overnight. Put quarter of water and lentils on to boil for 1/2 hour. Add tomatoes and onion and boil for further 1 1/2 hours. Take off and strain. Cook for further 10 minutes. Season to taste and garnish with chopped parsley. Croutons of bread dipped in soup and crisped in the oven make a delicious accompaniment.
Stew 2 pints of blackberries and 1/2 lb. brown sugar. Line a pudding basin with thick slices of stale brown bread, crusts removed. Pour in stewed blackberries and cover with bread, then greaseproof paper. Steam for 2 hours. Turn out next day and eat with squeezed lemon.-Cream if you have it.
And for the SPECIAL Occasion
Cook sufficient spinach in its own juice with the addition of just a little butter. When cooked, chop finely, moisten with lemon juice and sharpen up with a little chopped onion and chopped celery. Press into a 1 pint mould which has been buttered and let it get quite cold. Bone a tin of sardines, soak in lemon juice and sprinkle on a little red pepper. Stand the sardines on their heads around the de-moulded spinach and you have an ideal supper dish.
In this month one member even wrote in to provide her own recipe advice, I wonder if Charlie Bucket and Willy Wonka would have liked this one.
I am shocked by the recipe for Chocolate Fudge in the July number. The idea of putting in a whole tin of household milk is horrifying and so unnecessary. I append my own very simple recipe which makes a good fudge.
8 ozs. sugar. 1/2 to 3/4 oz. of chocolate according to taste. Milk enough to mix to a thin paste (about a teacupful). Heat till sugar is dissolved; then boil for 7 or 8 minutes, till a little put in cold water hardens. Remove from fire and beat in vanilla or almond flavouring and any margarine available (about 1/2 oz.-to 1 oz.). Pour on to buttered plates when thick.
We have submitted this letter to are Food Specialist who replies that some mothers say that they find it difficult to get children to take dried milk in liquid form, but that no child refuses a second piece of fudge.
For the benefit of those who Can get fresh milk, but not dried milk, we have printed this recipe for chocolate fudge.
Personal letters can form a very
important part of an archival collection; often they provide an intimate look
into the life and times of the author. The 62 letters we received recently were
written by a member of WVS India Kathleen Thompson to relatives in Harrogate Yorkshire.
They tell us about Kathleen’s Journey on the SS Corfu to New Delhi and then on
to Deolali, Randu and Raiputana where she spent 18 months
looking after troops getting ready to leave India. Each letter is extremely
detailed, shows a range of emotion and are very opinionated and I think the
best way to show you this is to share a few extracts from those letters.
SS Corfu 5.2.46
“The little boats of course came around with all their goods ‘very
cheap’ ‘very dear’ etc but orders had been given and before purchases could be
made a hose pipe was turned on them. This was I think to prevent any epidemics
been brought on board. The CO troops told me that VAD’s last trip bought ice
cream and 40 were down with dysentery so it’s not to be wondered at that
measures were taken”
The other four letters carry on
in the same way detailing life on board, the food which often seemed to
Kathleen like more ‘than a week’s ration’ as well as the time she spent with
other WVS members and the troops. On the 10th February she sent her
first letter from New Delhi were she stayed till March.
WVS Headquarters New Delhi
“Oh I don’t think I told you how we all went to the Daily Sketch Club
last week. This is a hut colour washed and made very beautiful with a stage. The
floor was red tiles and very good to dance on. A Sargent attached himself to me
and we had a good talk. The men seem on the whole very tired of India, longing
to be home and very pleased to see us. When we said goodnight he shook me
warmly by the hand and thanked me very much indeed for a pleasant evening. Most
of the women went in long frocks but I wore my old white brown cotton frock as I
did not quite know what to expect. Actually
the men were all in clean khaki drills and looked very nice. They were so
pleased to see so many women and I think it is one of the things to guard
against, this feeling of being really important. I do want to remain interested
in people and not become blasé.”
Between March and August 1946
Kathleen ran a club with two other WVS members Bertha and Marjorie in Deolali.
They also had a shop there, went to dances, ran trips for the troops and helped
with the YWCA.
“I saw quite a good film on Monday. Two girls and a sailor light and
sugary but it was good entertainment. Albert Coates was in it too but there
wasn’t enough of him for my taste. I went with John Towlee the Major to Bangalore
to a conference and felt he was in need of a little feminine society – that was
the excuse anyway!!”
Kathleen spent the rest of her
time in Randu and Raiputana before returning to Deolali in July 1947. Her last
letter to relatives in Yorkshire discusses her time on leave before she was due
to return home.
“The rain seems to have arrived in real earnest this morning and is
coming down in good old plops. When it breaks just a little I shall put on the
cape and walk to the post. Afraid it is impossible to stay in all the time. I
am really lucky to have had so many fine days as the records say that Abu
should have had 10” of rain by now”
Kathleen left Deolali at the end
of her contract with the organisation in August 1947. References from the WVS India
Administrator it was written that “[Kathleen]
has carried out her duties conscientiously and efficiently, and I have every
confidence in recommending her as a thoroughly capable and reliable individual”.
There is no record of what Kathleen did next, but included with all the letters
was a WRVS membership card dated 1970, so perhaps she re-joined as a volunteer for
her local area. I’m sure that Yorkshire isn’t as hot as India or expecting 10”
of rain but these days you never know.