Charities & Fundraising

The First World War prompted a wave of patriotic fervour amongst the people of Merton and there was a major increase in volunteering activity. 18,000 new charities were founded across the UK during the four year conflict and the people of Merton were generous with both their money and their time.

At the start of the war, local authorities in the districts of Merton, Mitcham and Wimbledon were contacted by many wealthier members of the community, eager to volunteer their money, properties and expertise for charitable purposes. However people from all levels of society were keen to "do their bit" to support the war effort.

Working together for a common purpose boosted public morale. There was a particular wave of support for charities that provided for servicemen and their families. This was understandable, as there was an unprecedented need. As men left for military service, many families were left without their main breadwinner. The situation worsened dramatically as the number of war widows and disabled servicemen increased.  Enemy attacks on British merchant ships also made it more difficult to import and export goods manufactured locally and this had an impact on the local economy, particularly from 1917 onwards.

Churches, schools and social groups joined local councillors and eminent members of Merton society in collecting goods, money and organising support services. Local newspapers also ran public appeals to encourage donations.

These initiatives can be grouped under broad headings. For more information, click the links shown below:

Comforts for the troops.

Money for munitions.

Charities for injured servicemen.

Support for the wives and children of servicemen.

Provision of medical supplies: The Silver Thimble Fund, Wimbledon War Workers Depot, the Papier Mache Splint Depot.

Support for War Refugees - for information on this topic visit our Refugees page.