More than Tea and Sympathy

Louise Westwood celebrates sixty years of that very British institution, the WVS.

A public broadcast in 1938 discussed the threat of war and appealed for volunteers for Air Raid Precautions (ARP) training. There was a huge response from women which was something of a surprise to the Home Secretary, Sir Samuel Hoare. He would no doubt be even more surprised that his brainchild, the Women’s Voluntary Service (WVS), which was born from his response, is still going strong in 1998.

In June 1938, a letter was sent to all local authorities stating that the WVS, under the leadership of Lady Stella Reading, would co-operate closely with them for ARP training. Reimbursement of reasonable expenditure was offered and a grant could be claimed. There was considerable resistance at a local level to ‘another women’s organisation’. The County Council Association complained that their members were concerned because of ‘…the previous tendency of women’s organisations to act upon their own initiative…’.

To continue reading this article you will need to purchase access to the online archive.

Buy Online Access  Buy Print & Archive Subscription

If you have already purchased access, or are a print & archive subscriber, please ensure you are logged in.

Please email if you have any problems.