Dilke Hospital League of Friends Blandford Hospital League of Friends All Hallows Hospital Garden
Role and Contribution
Leagues of Friends play an invaluable role in supporting their local community hospitals.
Volunteers help on a daily basis, such as offering a befriending service, offering transport, helping patients at mealtimes and reading to patients.
Friends provide services in hospitals such as a hospital shop, a tea bar, a library service, and a trolley service.
Friends organise events such as fetes, coffee morning, fashion shows, carnivals and concerts. Friends also provide an opportunity for local people to subscribe to the Friends, become a member, make a donation, and leave a legacy.
Friends often respond generously to requests from the hospital for items such as equipment, furnishings, and even large projects such as extensions to buildings. Friends also contribute to staff training and development, such as conference fees and training expenses. Friends in some cases pay for a hospital to be a member of the CHA.
Promoting the hospital
The Friends provide information on the hospital to the community through their annual general meetings, newsletters, websites. Friends often feature in local press coverage, highlighting the work of the hospital and its impact on the community.
Giving Voice to the community
Leagues of Friends are often called upon to represent the views and wishes of their members, and also reflect those of the wider community. This may be in planning and management discussions. Friends have carried out surveys of communities, to help to demonstrate the views and preferences of local residents.
Sharing Good Practice
Leagues of Friends have received awards in the CHA Innovation and Best Practice programme. These have included Blandford League of Friends and Friends of Crowborough which received awards in 2017 and now have national recognition. The Friends of Honiton and Crowborough spoke in the plenary session of the CHA national conference. The Friends of Blandford and Crowborough held workshops to share their experiences and practices. Chantel Wilson and Richard Hallet from the Friends of Crowborough Presentation "The Role of the Friends - Being Creative"
Leagues of Friends, or "Friends" of community hospitals as they are known, were created following the transfer of all voluntary hospitals into the National Health Service in 1948. When hospitals transferred from local management committees into State ownership, it soon became clear that volunteers and local people still had a role to play.
The British Hospital Association recommended the setting up of Leagues of Friends or similar organisation centred at individual hospitals. In March 1949 a conference was held to which 175 league of friends groups were invited. This led to the formation of the National Association of Leagues of Hospital Friends (NALHF). As membership to NALFH continued to diversify and grow the name was changed in 2006 to ATTEND - meaning to respond, reach out and to give care. Leagues of Friends can choose to be members of ATTEND and many, but not all, choose to do so. Leagues of Friends vary in terms of their organisational status, with a number choosing to register with the Charities commission. All have the same ethos of supporting their local community and hospital.
Leagues of Friends continue to be vital to the work of the community hospital. They ensure that the hospital has the most up to date equipment and facilities, and that the staff are well supported and trained. They provide practice support through their services and volunteers. They listen to what is important to the community and help provide a voice to local people. Leagues of Friends promote and support the work of their community hospitals. They can find themselves having a role when significant changes are proposed for their hospital, such as a reduction in service provision or a change in building and location. Leagues of Friends have always been vital to community hospitals, to link the hospital to the community and to enable the hospital to function as effectively as possible. There is every sign that this important relationship and role will continue to be needed.
There are challenges facing Leagues of Friends. In some areas, there are difficulties in recruiting to committees, and in particular to have a representation from all ages from the community. There are an increasing number of fundraising activities from different charities and voluntary organisations in communities. The changing ownership of some community hospitals has seen some of them being run by the private sector. The CHA are regularly contacted by Friends organisations asking for advice and support, and we will continue to assist where we can.
Friends and the CHA
For the first time, the CHA has a Director on the Board from a Friends organisation. We welcome Richard Hallett from the Friends of Crowborough Hospital.
The CHA will continue to support Friends of Community Hospitals, and welcome their membership, their attendance at conferences, and their participation in the wider activities of the CHA.