To mark the 75th anniversary of the Women’s Voluntary Services, WRVS has dropped the W from its name and has relaunched as the Royal Voluntary Service. The decision to change its name comes as the charity recognises the need to meet the demands of an ageing population and to be more visible to men as well as women.
It is hoped the charity’s new name and its new strapline, together for older people, will help dispel the myth that the Royal Voluntary Service is a women’s only organisation. It currently has over 6000 male volunteers, but this is only a fifth of its total army of volunteers and it would like to increase this number and tap into the demand amongst men to volunteer, shown by previous WRVS research, which found that over three million men (3,209,000) are planning to volunteer in 2013. Furthermore, more men are needed to help support the 190,000 men over the age of 75 who live alone suffer from feelings of loneliness.
Founded as the Women’s Voluntary Services in 1938, the organisation was initially formed to help recruit women into the Air Raid Precautions movement, helping civilians during and after air raids by providing emergency rest centres, feeding, first aid, and assisting with the evacuation and billeting of children. By 1943 the organisation had over one million volunteers and was involved in almost every aspect of wartime life from the collection of salvage to the knitting of socks and gloves for merchant seamen.
After the war Royal Voluntary Service transformed to become a leading organisation in the field of social care, pioneering many of the practices that formed the cornerstone of modern social services. Since then, the work of Royal Voluntary Service has evolved and the charity now provides practical help to older people that enables them to enjoy an improved quality of life.