National Association of Leagues of Friends

The League of Friends: A concise history

One of the key challenges of the post war years was the need to repair, and the most notable area under scrutiny was health. The provision of health services to that point had been by the network of voluntary hospitals, which the war had put under severe strain. The creation of the NHS, and the challenge it made to that culture of local responsibility did not sit comfortably with the Leagues of Friends.

None the less it soon became clear that the Leagues of Friends were still very much in demand, and with the recommendation of the British Hospital Association, to set up Leagues of Friends or similar organisations centred at individual hospitals, a conference to which 175 league of friends groups were invited was held on 24th March 1949 and the National Association of Leagues of Hospital Friends (N.A.L.H.F.) was formed. The main purpose was made clear by the following objective proposed at a meeting on the 5th of May 1949 by a certain Captain J.W. Price:

“To mobilise, encourage, foster and maintain, the human love of the people of this Country, in the giving service to supplement the healing work of the staff and the State, and always ensure a humanising supplement to the work of the hospitals”

Over 70 years have passed and the Leagues of Friends still remain true to their purpose, as the mobilisation of love in communities remains core to their activities.