The ‘British Red Cross still exists’, 1947–1974
Finding a role after the Second World War
in The Red Cross Movement
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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.

The Red Cross Movement

Myths, practices, turning points

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