accessibility & help

First World War volunteers

VADs in Uniforms


2014 marks 100 years since the start of the First World War. 

Over 90,000 people volunteered for the British Red Cross at home and overseas during the war.

We have created a unique set of teaching resources which encourage young people to discover more about the roles volunteers played during the war.

The resources encourage young people to research individual volunteers and explore their everyday lives, work, challenges, opportunities, love and loss.

Personal stories and unique access to letters and photographs from the First World War help bring the subject to life and guarantee interesting discussions and debates.


Learning objectives

Through the resources, young people will:

  1. Learn about the contribution of Voluntary Aid Detachments (VADs) to the war effort.
  2. Learn how to use the First World War volunteer website to search for information about the lives and work of volunteers.
  3. Understand the humanitarian impact of conflict.
  4. Understand and respect the principles underpinning international humanitarian law.

Resource overview

You can build a suite of lessons to give young people an in-depth understanding of life during the war, or pick and choose from topics and activities that are most relevant to your current areas of teaching. Choose from resources on:

  • Volunteering
  • Auxiliary Hospitals
  • Missing and wounded
  • Refugees service
  • Food parcels and prisoners of war
  • The role of women
  • Fundraising.

Suggested age range: 11-14 years old.



These resources were written by Rob Bowden and Rosie Wilson of Lifeworlds Learning and published in November 2014.