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

Stories » Teachers’ centre » What’s it got to do with me? – Citizenship Key Stage 3

What’s it got to do with me? – Citizenship Key Stage 3

A Citizenship Assignment (Key Stage 3)

A chance to explore active citizenship in the Second World War and its relevance today.

Printable lesson resources

Curriculum context

Programmes of study:

Schemes of work:


During the war, every veteran who contributed to this site had to make a difficult choice. They could stand by and watch as devastation rained on Britain , or they could stand up and take action.

The choice was sometimes easy, sometimes difficult; but for many different reasons, they all volunteered to join the Joint War Organisation. Some gave up their jobs, others had to leave their friends and family. Their stories make fascinating history and show the value of active citizenship.

This project pack aims to encourage children to explore what active citizenship is; what it meant in the Blitz, and what it means today, by:

Using this pack you will be able to support one or more lessons, depending on your own needs. The pack is activity centred with your role being to introduce the topic, provide background information and moderate the children’s work.

Step 1: Exploring the Caring on the Home Front website

Before you start, make sure the children have a copy of Project Sheet 1: The assignment , which explains what they need to do.

Look at some of the stories in the site and meet some of the veterans who volunteered to give up their everyday lives to help others. The following are good examples:

VADs: All stories

Air Raids: Evelyn Bristor, Clare Lerner, St. John Ambulance Men, Betty Popkiss

Welfare: Steve King, Kathleen Thomas, Alfred Le Monnier

Wounded & Missing and POWs: Douglas Isherwood

Youth and Cadets: Anne Wisla, Yvonne Albon (for restrictions on children’s involvement), Audrey Lewis, Patrick Dickinson

Consider how they sacrificed things to help others, and what drove them to do this.

Step 2: Choose a story

Get the children to choose a case study and research its historical context using the resource library.

Project Sheet 2: Background research will help children in this research stage. Not all questions are relevant for every story in the site, and children should be encouraged to think of others.

Children should be considering why their chosen person volunteered. What drove them to make sacrifices in their own lives in order to help others?

Step 3: Choose a modern day ‘Active Citizen’

Children could now choose a modern day ‘active citizen’, someone who they think shows responsibility by volunteering to help others.

It might be interesting if the children chose a celebrity who supports a movement like Make Poverty History, Comic Relief or Live8. Alternatively, they could choose an ordinary person who volunteers to help others, for example through St. John Ambulance or the British Red Cross. The websites listed in the Useful Links section below will all have case studies of some their volunteers. The children might even know someone who does voluntary work who they could interview.

Children should repeat Step 2 for their chosen ‘active citizen’, researching them using the links suggested below and using Project Sheet 2: Background research .

Step 4: Writing and designing a magazine article

Based on this research, children could then write and design an imaginative article in the style of a modern day magazine such as Heat.

Ask the children to imagine that they are taking the character they chose from the website, and their modern day ‘active citizen’, out to lunch to interview them. In steps 2 and 3 the children will have written down answers to the questions found on Project Sheet 2: Background research for both their interviewees. These can be used to write the article.

The article should look their experiences and compare what they both feel about being an active citizen – one who gets up and helps others, doesn’t just sit back and wait for things to happen. Children should consider whether their interviewees would agree with each other or not!

Project Sheet 3: Write the article will help children at this stage.

Step 5: Editorial meeting

As ‘Editor in Chief’ your role will be to guide the group towards an understanding of what active citizenship is, how to take responsibility and how to engage with the local community by volunteering to help others.

You could start the discussion by asking children to read out their stories. After each the group could consider:

Once all the children have had their turn move them onto some more challenging questions about the role of ‘ordinary people’ volunteering to help others. Ask them to consider, for instance:

Project Sheet 4: Editorial meeting gives you some more ideas.  

Useful Links