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Caring on the Home Front - Volunteer memories from World War Two

Stories » Fundraising


As a charity, the Joint War Organisation relied entirely on volunteers and fundraising. When War was declared on 3 September 1939, they only had £2000. They desperately needed funds to support their work, so the Duke of Gloucester’s British Red Cross and St John Ambulance Appeal was launched immediately.

An increase in taxes since the First World War meant that large donations from the upper classes were not likely. Instead, the Joint War Organisation decided to appeal to wage earners and particular sections of the community.

Raising money was never easy, especially when paper rationing limited the number of posters and leaflets, and when outdoor fundraising events had to be cancelled because of the threat from flying bombs. However, the determination of the Joint War Organisation fundraisers saw them through – by 1945,  £54 million had been raised, or £1.4 billion in today’s terms.

61Children throughout the UK

Joint War Organisation, Fundraising
‘Junior-sized collectors ‘

Children throughout the country grew up quickly during the Second World War. War affected home life, the school calendar, and playtime. Many children became involved in the war effort and often joined their parents in fundraising for St John Ambulance and the British Red Cross. Here are just a few stories of the children’s war effort. Read the children’s story

41Edna Hindle

Nottingham, St John, Fundraising
‘A new ambulance’
Edna Hindle’s St John Ambulance Division in Nottingham joined together to fundraise for a much-needed ambulance during the War. People gave generously and the Division managed to buy a sparkling new ambulance. With pride Edna witnessed the ambulance’s unveiling, attended by HRH Princess Marina. Read Edna’s story

Kathleen Thomas

Liverpool, St John, Fundraising
‘Money into the apron’
Kathleen Thomas walked all over Liverpool collecting donations for prisoners of war. Pubs proved especially good places to visit. She recalls one day at the Philharmonic, when pub regulars gave more than her tin could hold. So Kathleen gamely strode the countertop, gathering money in her skirt and cap. Read Kathleen’s story

21Lillian Barron

Hammersmith, Red Cross, Fundraising
‘Penny a week’

Lillian Barron knew how much the Penny-a-Week Fund could help. She had seen her countrymen nd her brothers off to war. Penny-a-Week was collected either house-to-house or deducted from weekly salaries. Lillian covered the Guinness Trust housing estate, where residents gave generously. Read Lillian’s story

5Sylvia Leppard

Hampshire, Joint War Organisation, Fundraising
‘Accounts and potatoes’

Sylvia Leppard supported herself by ensuring that POWs themselves received support. She kept accounts at the Fund’s offices near Basingstoke. Her family understood that POWs needed help. At the office she worked for Britain’s POWs overseas; at home Sylvia earned alongside German POW. Read Sylvia’s story

11Violet Ryder

Cambridge, Red Cross, Fundraising
‘Cambridge to Minsk relief fund’

Violet Ryder worked magic with a tin can. At work in Cambridge, she collected for the Joint War Organisation war effort during her breaks. Her neighbours also gave willingly to the cause. From Guildhall bazaars to garden parties, for spitfires and food for Russia, Violet raised essential money and awareness. Read Violet’s story