Charity for children at Christmas

Despite the war there is lots of evidence that a lot of effort went into celebrating Christmas and continuing to make it a special time of celebration. This was despite the absence of many men at the Front and also by 1916 some food shortages.  And as was the practice before the war and afterwards there was also an emphasis on ensuring that children whose lives were affected by poverty, illness or disability and the children of refugees were not forgotten. Multiple charities were involved in fundraising and organising parties, christmas dinners and entertainments on a mass scale for those they considered underpriviliged.

The following selection of newscuttings illustrates the range of events that were put on – and from which thousands of children and their families benefitted. They include a party for 500 babies (!) at the Town Hall organised by the Municipal Infant Welfare Society; children’s party for the Catholic branch of the Birmingham Cripples Union; a Band of Hope entertainment for 300 poor children at the Digbeth Institute; Father Christmas and a scary looking Teddy Bear visiting sick children at the Children’s Hospital; a pantomime for 2000 children of servicemen sponsored by the Gazette and a party for Belgian refugee families in Small Heath.

Liz Palmer

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