Clifton ‘Friends’ follow in footsteps of first NHS hospital volunteers

‘Clifton is our community hospital so, if you would like to give something back, volunteering is a great way to do it’ chair Linda Beddows

A League of Friends became a familiar sight at hospitals in the years following the creation of the NHS in July 1948.

And it was at the former Lytham Hospital in Fylde where one of the first of them led the way before of the establishment of a national Friends movement in 1949.

Friends groups come in all shapes and sizes but their primary purpose is to fundraise and provide the “nice to haves” for both patients and staff that were not the hospital’s priority areas for spending.

Lytham Hospital closed in 2007 but the work of the Friends continues at nearby Clifton, which is part of Blackpool Teaching Hospitals.

Linda Beddows joined the Friends when the hospital opened in 1988. She now chairs the group and is keen to recruit new volunteers to keep their good work going.

“We must have raised hundreds of thousands of pounds over the years,” said Linda, a retired recruitment consultant.

Getting ready for the League’s Coronation party at Clifton last month

The Friends have supported the redecoration of the hospital garden room, including new blinds, which itself was originally funded and furnished by the Friends cost of more than £100,000. They have also provided a portable sound system for taking around the wards, track suits as a substitute for hospital gowns for patients going for treatment and hope to raise even more funds at a summer fair.

“We’re always on the look-out for sponsors too. We spend £2,000 a year on newspapers for patients and it would be marvellous if someone could support that,” said Linda.

“Clifton is our community hospital so, if you would like to give something back, volunteering is a great way to do it. The hospital staff are wonderfully supportive.

“We can customise volunteering roles to people’s strengths and availability – some people like working behind the scenes, as it were, rather than being ‘front of house’. Many hands do make light work.”

Call 07518 782365 if you would like to learn more about volunteering with the Friends.

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