I never wanted to participate in a charity: Women's relationship to voluntary work within the UK Women's Liberation Movement

Dr Bridget Lockyer (Canterbury Christ Church University)
30 November 2015

This seminar considers the voluntary work carried out by women in the Women’s Liberation Movement (WLM) in the UK during the 1970s and 1980s, using the WLM in Bradford, West Yorkshire, as a case study. Two of the most notable and enduring voluntary organisations which evolved from the movement are Rape Crisis and Women’s Aid. However, there were dozens of WLM initiatives in each town and city across the country which provided services for women, including women’s health centres and crèches. Women gave up their time and money to set up and participate in these activities, but this work was often conceptualised by themselves and others as political activism rather than voluntary work. This seminar will examine this ambivalence towards charity and their desire to distance themselves from the traditional role of the volunteer. It will also discuss how these women negotiated their relationships with public services, and the processes of bureaucratisation and professionalisation their organisations underwent in order to be seen as legitimate

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