Today on International Women’s Day 2018 we are thinking about the Women’s Voluntary Service (WVS)
The Women’s Voluntary Service (WVS) performed countless welfare activities, from helping families who were the victims of the blitz, to the distribution of clothing and Red Cross parcels and vitamins to children.
The WVS in Northern Ireland held its first meeting on 30th January 1941. Belfast suffered two major air raids in April and May 1941, just a few months after the WVS had formed.
In the aftermath of the Belfast blitz, the WVS clothed 7,000 people. After the Easter Tuesday attack, 40,000 people were accommodated in Belfast’s rest centres and 70,000 meals were served to them the following day.
Four mobile canteens attached to the AFS (Auxiliary Fire Service) were manned by WVS in the weeks following the Belfast blitz.
By the end of May 1941 the WVS in Northern Ireland had 10,446 members.
WVS members also worked in ARP (Air Raid Precautions) and transport services, in rest centres, evacuation and information bureaux.
In January 1942, the one Belfast district of the WVS completed 96 camouflage nets for the army.
When the first American transport arrived in Northern Ireland in January 1942, a WVS Mobile Canteen was waiting, ready to serve hot drinks to the men. Shortly after then men had disembarked, a WVS salvage van appeared to collect any wastepaper which might have accumulated on the transports.
Call into the Museum to see our very own WVS woman.