Our Communities Respond



Our Communities Respond

The First World War saw the greatest acts of volunteering ever in Britain. As well as the millions of men who volunteered to fight, costing many lives, there was a huge growth in the voluntary effort at home.

The most popular causes were “comforts” including clothing, books and food, for British and Empire troops, medical services, support for disabled servicemen, organisations for relieving stress at home, aid for refugees and countries overseas, assistance to prisoners of war.

The sheer scale of help required was unprecedented; so too was the impact on the way charities were run.

Work of civilian volunteers and charities helped create a social cohesion that bolstered morale among British troops.

The millions of donations and thousands of new charities exposed the limitations of the law and the work of the charity commission. Nearly 18,000 charities were established during the 4 years of the war.

At community level the village of Hoby in Leicestershire, typified the response both through the numbers of men at war and the practical support given at home.  By mid-1917 over 60 men, who lived in or were originally from Hoby, were serving in the forces; primarily in the army but also the navy. At this time 7 had lost their lives. This was a high proportion for a village of only 200 adult residents.

There was help given to the wounded at Elms Farm, Brooksby Hall and in Melton Mowbray, Wicklow Lodge Hospital.

The farms all supplied food for the war effort. Village schools were the main facilities used for fundraising activities as well as Institutes, public houses and the larger private homes.

The local newspapers show the range of fundraising taking place in the area: