The 'British Red Cross still exists', 1947-74: finding a role after the Second World War

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


In 1974 the British Red Cross (BRCS) conducted an ‘Attitude Survey’, the analysis of which concluded that the public knew much more about the organisation’s wartime than peacetime activities, and that the number of younger members was in decline. Three decades earlier, the BRCS had faced a crisis in identity, leading to the repositioning of the charity at a time of tremendous political, social and economic change, including much more emphasis on international humanitarian aid. Indeed, in 1947 the BRCS’s Public Relations Department stated that the public needed to know that the ‘British Red Cross still exists’. To what extent did the end of the Second World War and the launch of the National Health Service in 1948 affect policy, philanthropy, volunteerism and public perceptions of the charity? Drawing on the wider historiography on postwar humanitarianism, the Welfare State and voluntarism, this chapter analyses the way in which the BRCS adapted, and co-operated with State services and other charities between 1946 and 1974.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Red Cross Movement
Subtitle of host publicationMyths, Practices and Turning Points
EditorsNeville Wylie, Melanie Oppenheimer, James Crossland
Place of PublicationManchester
PublisherManchester University Press
Number of pages16
ISBN (Print)9781526133519
Publication statusPublished - 24 Mar 2020


  • British Red Cross
  • post-war
  • international humanitarian aid.


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