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.