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Children get a taste of life on the home front in new exhibition

Children in South Staffordshire will get the chance to learn more about life on the home front during the Great War in a project touring the county’s libraries.

The ‘Kitchen Goes to War’ exhibition is part of the county’s plans to commemorate the centenary of the end of the Great War.  Now at Perton library, the project will explore why rationing was introduced during the First World War, how it worked and how families on the home front were encouraged to ‘do their bit’ for the war effort.

Using everyday domestic objects from Staffordshire’s archive and museum collections, along with records from the past like rationing books and newspaper clippings, children will experience and learn about what life was like in a fun hands-on way.

When rationing was introduced for the first time, it brought the impact of the war straight into the domestic lives of families back at home, and it saw the kitchen become a new front on which women and children could actively play their part in helping to win the war.

Gill Heath, Cabinet Member for Communities at Staffordshire County Council said:

“This is a really fun project that’s going down well with children right across the county.

“Not only does it give children a real insight into life on the Homefront and the Great War but gives them a taste of the everyday challenges that families faced.  It’s all part of our centenary commemorations  of the Great War and I would encourage people to try and see it when it visits their local library.”

The exhibition was developed by Staffordshire County Council’s libraries and arts service with help from Pupils from Springhead Primary School in Newcastle under Lyme.  Pupils worked  with local artists including Sarah Richardson to help design the resource and re-tell the story.

Sarah Richardson said that

“The resource will ‘make real’ the changes that took place in people’s kitchens and diets during the time.  It will allow us to re-imagine what it would have felt like to experience these changes, in particular from the viewpoint of young people.

“It was great to work with local pupils whose views and creative experiences all helped shape the exhibition to make it relevant and appealing to as many children and families as possible.”

The project received a grant of £10,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund’s First World War then and now programme.

Vanessa Harbar, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund West Midlands said

“The impact of the First World War was far reaching, touching and shaping every corner of the UK and beyond.

“Thanks to National Lottery players, HLF has already invested more than £90million to more than 1,700 projects – large and small – that are marking this global Centenary.  With our small grants programme, we are enabling even more communities like those involved in ‘The Kitchen Goes to War’ to explore the continuing legacy of this conflict and help local young people in particular to broaden their understanding of how it has shaped our modern world.”

The exhibition will be at Perton library until 29 November 2018.

People can find out more about the project at www.staffordshire.gov.uk/arts/KitchenGoestoWar Or on Facebook and Twitter.