Reflecting on the past year

By Leon A Smith
September 14, 2012

As we enter the new year, Rosh Hashana is a time and opportunity to reflect on the past year and to look forward to the next. Life at Nightingale House/Nightingale Hammerson has been to say the least full. This year our two charities merged and formalities were completed on 30th April. We are a significally sized charity providing care in both North and South London to over 250 residents. We employ over 400 staff and have several hundred volunteers. We therefore feel ourselves to be significant players in the field of care within our community.

These are exciting and yet difficult times for our charity. We have extensive plans for improving the environment on our sites and are dependent on the generosity of the community to support us in our ambitions. The situation regarding support from local authorities in relation to the care of our residents is becoming increasingly difficult and challenging. Some local authorities have now moved the goal posts so far that it is nigh on impossible obtain funding other than effectively for end of life care. Only this week, we heard of a family living in impossible conditions who despite their serious need of help were denied this by their local authority.

Nightingale Hammerson is a charity which exists to provide care to older members of the Jewish community and notwithstanding the mean spiritness and heartlessness of that unnamed local authority, our charity will be taking in this person in need – because that is why we are here. It is no wonder that some people feel let down by the State. One instinctively knows whether a family are in genuine need. For a local authority to deny that badly needed support is nothing short of callous. It’s sad that this is what we have come to. One is tempted to contrast this with the generosity that comes from so many parts of our community. So many people respond generously to our appeals particularly at this time of the year. And other people are kind and thoughtful enough to remember us in their wills. We are indebted to these people for their generosity for which in most cases we have not been able to thank them personally.

Nightingale Hammerson is a community and at no time is that sense of community greater than at the Jewish holidays – such as Rosh Hashana. As we approach the Festival there is a feeling of warmth and togetherness which whilst hard to define is most tangibly there.

I cannot let this week’s blog go by without mention of my good friend, Howard Strowman – a wonderful friend and supporter of our Charity who tragically died in a terrible accident this week. My thoughts are very much with his family at this impossibly difficult time.

May I take this opportunity of wishing my reader(s) a very Happy & Healthy New Year and I look forward to writing this column again next year


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