Contacting Associate Members during the Pandemic

News from the Benevolent fund

When Matron Miss Dora Finch started the UCH Nurses League in 1909 two of the aims were:

  1. To form a bond of union between past and present Members of the Nursing Staff
  2. For mutual help and social intercourse.

In order to help achieve these volunteer members of the UCH London Nurses Charity (formerly the UCH Nurses League) have normally been present in the charity office in Maple House each Thursday. During this time, members knew they could phone with queries or often just to have a chat.

At the onset of the pandemic, it became clear that to maintain this service it would need to be done from our own homes. Secretary Shirley Warwick and I managed to make 2 hurried visits to the office between the 1st and 2nd lockdowns. We gathered up important documents and ensured the voicemail message explained the office closure. We also arranged for the post to be forwarded to Shirley at her home so she could continue her secretarial duties.

Sadly, the usual social events that our members and their friends so enjoy had to be cancelled. I decided to concentrate on making telephone calls to those more senior members whom we had contact details for.

Most were delighted to receive a call especially those living alone and in care homes. Loneliness and depression during this pandemic have become big issues especially with all the necessary restrictions on relatives/ friends visiting.

The underlying message throughout has been the very happy memories of their time at UCH. Friends were made for life and keeping in contact in present times was even more important. This has always been a valued part of the charity.

Interesting and lively chats

I have enjoyed lots of interesting and lively chats with those members on a huge range of subjects mostly pertaining to their time spent at UCH:

  • Nursing during WW2; new challenges from the care of civilians injured during bombing raids
  • The Black Out, to being posted to temporary hospitals set up outside London
  • The initial interview with Matron to gain entry to the School of Nursing
  • leaving home and living in the Nurses’ Home. I think 18-year-olds were perhaps less sophisticated than today!
  • the uniform and the uncomfortable bits like the collar and studs
  • shift patterns and how to manage a ‘split shift’. It was interesting to note that mid 20th century, 12-hour shifts were the norm. Later only the night ones remained 12 hours the rest usually being 8 hours. Today there appears to have been a return to 12-hour stints.

Nursing Skills

Some members told me how valuable their nursing skills had become in later life when providing care of their loved ones. Others talked of their own needs. I was always mindful of the possibility of help from the Benevolent Fund.

What are you views on a network?

Finally, I have been asked many times if there are members of any age who live near them. It would be great if a network could be established of both UCH trained or current nurses in each part of the UK. (another fundamental aim of the charity). Obviously someone would need to take up the initiative in each area.

Current Addresses are in the back of the new magazine. Kate our administrator is working hard on updating the membership data base.

Please do think about this suggestion and give us your views using the form below and selecting Benevolent Fund as your subject

Wendy Nowell January 2021
Benevolent Fund Committee member.

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