Fighting on the home front

The Women’s Voluntary Service (WVS) was established in 1938 to help with wartime problems of air raids and rationing, later evolving into the largest voluntary organisation in British history1.

Now nearly 80 years on it is known as Royal Voluntary Service, and still provides help and support to those in need. More than three million women and men have volunteered and contributed to this worthy cause to date.

To recognise Women’s History Month we have selected a film from the archives which focuses on the less well-known WVS activities of the 1960s. The dedication and sacrifice of the volunteers, so crucial during WWII, was by then being channelled into helping isolated and lonely people, in particular the elderly, including efforts to provide ‘meals on wheels’.

Watch as the volunteers load up their van and deliver hot meals to an elderly couple, and provide much needed company and conversation to another lady in Dagenham.

Find out more about this film from the Barking & Dagenham Heritage and Archives Service collection.

A large-scale digitisation project called Hidden Histories of a Million Wartime Women is currently underway. Commemorating “the army that Hitler forgot”, you can keep up with the most recent updates here.

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