Winifred House to care solely for mentally handicapped children
Winifred House Convalescent Hospital Home for Children, at Arkley, is in future to care solely for mentally handicapped children. This decision has been taken by the North West Metropolitan Regional Hospital Board because sick children no longer need long convalescent periods in hospital and as a result the facilities at Winifred House are not being fully used.
The change was announced by Mrs. Peggy Holloway, chairman of Barnet Hospital Committee, at the annual meeting of the Friends of Winifred House on Thursday of last week, when the guest speaker was Mrs. Margaret Thatcher, Secretary of State for Education and M.P. for Finchley.
Mrs. Thatcher spent an hour looking round the home and talking to the staff and the children. She told the meeting she was delighted with everything she saw and with the wonderful work being done by the nurses.
Mrs Thatcher and the other visitors saw only a few children in the beautiful grounds and well-equipped wards. For the past year, 20 places have been kept for mentally handicapped children spending short periods at the home. The remaining 20 are for convalescent children, but these have been there only in ones and twos.
Mrs. Holloway told the meeting that for a long time, Winifred House, which costs £40,000 a year to run, has been seriously under-used. This is due to the enormous improvement in social conditions which has resulted in children staying in hospital for much shorter periods.
There are many severely mentally handicapped children in Cell Barnes and Harperbury Hospitals at St. Albans, in conditions totally unsuitable for young children. So it has been decided that the amenities and lovely surroundings of Winifred House should be used for these children, whose need is great.
Mrs. Holloway described the new arrangement as a challenge to the hospital and to the Friends to do more than they have ever done before.
The meeting loudly applauded Mrs. Holloway 's announcement, and Mr. Ansell Savage, in proposing a vote of thanks to the chairman. Mrs. K. M. Gregory, said he was sure the Friends would accept the challenge as they had accepted the challenge of helping convalescent children in 1948.
Miss D. M. Pritchard, treasurer, gave some of the background to Winifred House, which was founded by members of her own family in Islington in the 1890's. In those days, children recovering from long illnesses and accidents were able to make much better progress in a convalescent home when their own home conditions were not so good. Winifred House moved to Arkley in 1937.
Mrs. Thatcher said she was extremely interested to see the home with mentally handicapped children. It was remarkable how great was the devotion the mentally handicapped child inspired in his family, not only in his parents, but in his sisters and brothers.
It is a great relief to these parents to be able to leave their children in such lovely surroundings while they have a rest.
This is an era in which a great deal is talked about gaps, said Mrs. Thatcher. Perhaps the greatest gap is the one between those who make their children their paramount care and concern and those who do not.
The vast majority of people subordinate their own interests and desires to the need to care for their children. Even so, it is horrifying that there should be a need for the N.S.P.C.C. and distressing too, that this organisation is now in financial difficulty.
To-day, people need to know that someone cares about them and needs them. This care is being extended by the community through such organisations as the Friends. A vote of thanks to Mrs. Thatcher was proposed by Mrs. K. M. Gregory.
Officers elected were:—
Chairman, Mrs. K. M. Gregory; treasurer, Miss D. M. Pritchard; secretary, Mrs. J. A. Birch; committee, Miss F. E. Figgis, Miss E. V. Pearson, Mrs. G. Pearson, Mrs. S. C. Pritchard, Mrs. J. Pritchard, Miss Y. Southcott, Mrs. G. R. Shillitoe and Miss A. M. Watts Matron is Miss B. A. T. Makin.