A Little Bit of History
The NAW was set up in 1971 by June Hemer from Stafford. After the death of her husband, June recognised that the pratical and emotional difficulties that she was facing were far from unique. She realised that one of a widow's needs was to be with people who understood how a widow felt - and that meant other widows. Then, as now, by encouraging members to develop new friendships within the security of a shared experience, the NAW could help members move beyond grief towards a new confidence and even a contentment that previously seemed impossible.
Many of the problems that June and her contemporaries faced were financial. Since those early years, many, but far from all, of these problems have been addressed by legislation. The NAW is proud to have played an important part in campaigning for these changes, such as tax allowances, Christmas bonuses, and bereavement benefit. Such legislation has all been introduced, or improved, through the NAW's efforts. We continue to talk to government and other statutory and voluntary agencies on behalf of the widowed wherever and whenever possible.
Would June Hemer recognise the NAW today? Most definitely, yes. The NAW's core values of friendship and support are stronger than ever through our constantly growing network of branches and county/area meetings. Doubtless, however, she would be a little surprised by the social changes to which the NAW has adapted. We now welcome widowers, as well as widows, and others who hav e lost their partners through bereavement. Unmarried or divorced people who support the aims of the NAW are able to join as associate rather than as full members.
The NAW is proud to be the only national charitable organisation to be dedicated to men and women who have lost their wife, husband or partner through bereavement, whatever the circumstances of death, whatever their age.