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The Ages of VoluntarismHow we got to the Big Society$
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Matthew Hilton and James McKay

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780197264829

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: January 2013

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197264829.001.0001

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Voluntarism and the impact of the First World War

Voluntarism and the impact of the First World War

(p.27) 2 Voluntarism and the impact of the First World War
The Ages of Voluntarism

Peter Grant

British Academy

This chapter considers the experience of the First World War to demonstrate that state mobilisation does not necessarily crowd out voluntary endeavour. While the scale of volunteering to fight in that conflict has long been appreciated, the equivalent voluntary effort on the home front has been neglected by historians. This chapter charts the scale, coordination and regulation of this voluntary activity, from the establishment of the National Relief Fund, to the appointment of a Director General of Voluntary Organisations in 1915 and the 1916 War Charities Act. It is argued that the War encouraged professionalisation and innovation within the charity sector, while also embedding a notion of voluntarism working hand in hand with the state.

Keywords:   First World War, National Relief Fund, voluntary organisations, charity, professionalisation, volunteering, voluntarism

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