Child Welfare (1962)

“Child Welfare” is a television broadcast by the Central Office of Information from 1962. It advertises the positive effects of new benefits on the wellbeing and security of a new generation of British children born after the war. The fourteen-minute programme explains the financial and practical resources available to mothers for the purpose of bringing up their children in a country which was no longer constrained by rationing.

The broadcast focuses on the wellbeing of children, a worthy and important cause in its own right, of course. But at the same time as the state boasted about these new benefits available to mothers in order to support their children, it also taxed war widows’ pensions at the highest rate of 50%, often leaving widowed mothers with such a reduced income that they could barely afford to feed themselves and their families. At the time, bereavement counselling, as we now know it, did not exist, and scholars had only just begun to research experiences of grief in psychological terms. Women were often left to struggle in isolation and silence with severe economic hardship, their new status as single mothers, and their grief for the husbands they had lost.

You can find out more about war widows in post-war Britain here. You might also be interested in “The World of the Widow” (1960), a BBC Home Service broadcast that was the result of one of the first sociological studies of widowhood. It includes interviews with war widows about their experiences of life and bereavement during the 1950s.



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