Free learning resources from arts, cultural and heritage organisations.

Teachers' Notes

Resource created by the Harris Museum


Curriculum Links

  • SMSC: British values
  • KS2 History: A study of an aspect or theme in British history after 1066
  • KS3 History: Challenges for Britain, Europe and the wider world 1901 to the present day
  • KS3 Citizenship:  The roles played by voluntary groups in society.


Aim of resource:

To provide a historical example of local volunteering and of people making a positive contribution to society.


Learning Objectives

  • Knowledge of how the people of Preston and Lancashire gave their time to help people in need.
  • Understanding of how we can help others today.
  • Skills to interpret original historical sources


Discussion Ideas


The resource is designed as a starting point for discussion around British Values as part of SMSC. Teachers may wish to use it as a ‘circle time’ type discussion linked to a history topic that pupils are already familiar with. Some questions are included in the text but groups may wish to expand their discussion with the following prompts:
  • Why do you think the volunteers wanted to help the returning soldiers?
  • What do you think returning soldiers might have needed?
  • What can you see in the photos? 
  • Can you work out how the Preston Free Station Buffet volunteers helped returning soldiers? 
  • Do you think that the soldiers and sailors had to pay for their cups of tea? Why/why not?  
  • Has anybody ever helped you? Have you ever helped anybody else?
  • Have any of the pupils ever volunteered for something? Were they on their own or part of a group? (e.g. litter picking, Cub Scouts.) Did they wear anything special, like the Preston volunteers did?
  • Do pupils understand what is meant by ‘charity’ and ‘fundraising’?
  • Does your school ever raise money for charity? How? Which charities? 
  • Have you or your school ever collected things other than money to help people?
  • Is there anyone in your school/family/town who might need help sometimes? 
  • Could you do more to help other people? Do the class want to do something to help other people?
  • Have you ever said ‘thank you’ for something? How did you do it? 
  • Why is it important to say ‘thank you’? 
  • Why might someone not say ‘thank you’? Should we still help them next time? Why/why not? 
  • Is there anyone that the class needs to say ‘thank you’ to?

Activity Ideas


The ideas raised through the discuss questions might link with national or local issues that pupils could help with through one-off action or longer-term projects. For example, pupils might identify a problem in their school community – such as littering or loneliness – that they could help to address. 
They might also identify national fundraising efforts that they could help with, such as ‘Comic Relief’ (usually in March). You could link the ideas of ‘acts of kindness’ into a positive spin on ‘Anti-Bullying Week’ (usually in November).


  • Read the letters of thanks sent to Ada Whiteside and the volunteers of the Preston Station Free Buffet. Imagine you are a soldier returning from the trenches. How are you feeling? How do you feel after passing through the Preston Free Station Buffet? Write a letter of thanks to the volunteers expressing your feelings.
  • Write a newspaper article telling the world about what’s going on in Preston Station.
  • Create a piece of persuasive writing encouraging other towns to provide the same service in their station. 



  • Who do we think made the object/s, when and why?
  • How are the objects similar and different to others we have seen related to wartime Britain (such as gas masks, rationing cards and medals)?
  • Can pupils sort the pictures of objects into 3 piles: ways of helping soldiers, ways of raising money, ways of saying ‘thank you’? Ask pupils to justify their decisions through their knowledge of wartime and by looking carefully at the images. 
  • Ask pupils to consider the modern-day equivalents of some of the objects. For example, what might we use now to say ‘thank you’ or to raise money?
Many of the objects and images shown may be found in the ‘Discover Preston’ gallery at the Harris Museum and Art Gallery in Preston.