Lillian Barron knew how much the Penny-a-Week Fund could help. She had seen her countrymen and 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.
What did you do?
“A penny a week in those days was quite a lot of money. But people just went for it.
We collected at the Guinness Trust, these big blocks of flats. A lot of the tenants contributed to the Penny-a-Week Fund.
We collected when we went round on our visits….They knew it was Red Cross and they knew some of the things that [we] did.
They knew all about the prisoners of war, and the disabled, the convalescent homes: that the Red Cross were working there. They didn’t ask a lot [of questions]. It was public knowledge.
It was going to be used for some good purpose. I don’t think we actually queried for which particular thing the money was going for. I think it was general funds really.
We didn’t sort of think about what was happening to it.
Any special memories?
“The most popular, the thing that was the easiest way to get money, was for the parcels for the prisoners of war. Nobody drew back from contributing to that. It was the fact that they were prisoners of war. Not only were they away from home, but they had no freedom. They were stuck there for goodness knows how long.
And we were always having different functions.
The public paid. They had to buy tickets.
[We] were there on duty. Oh, you weren’t allowed to go as anything else.
One of the most successful ways of obtaining money was the Penny-a-Week Fund. The main function was to obtain from wage earners a voluntary contribution of one penny per week, to be deducted from their pay, at a time when the average weekly wage was £10. This was supplemented by collecting cards and house-to-house collections. Rural areas were covered by the Rural Pennies Scheme, which was organised through the Agriculture Committee. Find out more about the Penny-a-Week Fund
Keeping the public well informed of the services of the Joint War Organisation, in order to encourage donations, was difficult. Space in the press was limited as newspapers were reduced in size due to paper shortages, which also limited numbers of posters and leaflets. One option was the promotion of exhibitions in London and elsewhere. One, in 1943 at Dorland Hall in London, was entitled Arctic Convoy, and showed the aid being sent to Russia. Find out more about fundraising exhibitions
Activities such as dances were often organised through the appeal’s Sports Committee. Their fundraising activities included: angling, athletics, badminton, baseball, billiards, bowls, boxing, bridge, cribbage, cricket, croquet, cycling, darts, dominoes, football, golf, greyhound racing, hockey, homing pigeons, jigsaw puzzles, lawn tennis, lacrosse, netball, quoits, racing, rowing, shooting, skittles, squash, snooker, swimming, table tennis, whist drives and dances, and wrestling. Other, less active, games players were catered for by the publication of a crossword puzzle book and playing cards