The Future of the Nightingale Fellowship
1. Why are we discussing closure details now?
The Nightingale Fellowship Council has been discussing the possibility of closure for over 20 years now, and this has been addressed in Presidents’ letters and at AGMs. However, as with many other Nurses’ Leagues, the age profile and diminishing number of members mean this question was at the forefront of our revisited strategic discussions. 2025 was agreed as the closure date to allow for planning, and TTP and Trustee support which must remain in situ up to 2032
2. Why does the Fellowship need to close as there seems to be plenty of money in the accounts?
Falling membership and the increasing age profile of our members means that the amount we receive from annual subscriptions is falling.
Without additional income from members it is necessary to further use charitable funds (Benevolent Fund) to meet the running costs of the Fellowship, a situation which worsens year on year and has to be justifiable to the Charity Commission
We have now gone well beyond the tipping point of a justifiable amount of charitable fund money being used towards running the alumni.
The charitable bequests are restricted to grants for nurses in need, and although it is reasonable to charge those bequests for the cost of managing and promoting the grants, the Charity Commission would look unfavourably at using them to support the general interests of the Nightingale Fellowship members.
What do I get for my money?
- The opportunity to keep in touch with colleagues from your nursing days.
- Support from the Benevolent Fund within the approved criteria
- One Annual Journal keeping you up to date with Nightingales across the world and with events and developments at the Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Hospital Trust.
- The opportunity to meet up with colleagues at the Chapel Service, AGM and over an excellent tea (Covid pandemic permitting)
- The chance to influence and inform the work of the Fellowship.
3. What is the difference between an alumni organisation and a charity?
An alumni organisation fulfils a social role of enabling former affiliates of an organisation (such as students of a specific university) to remain in contact. This might involve organising events as well as use of social media and journals. A charity is an organisation, registered to support a charitable purpose. In the case of the Nightingale Fellowship this is ‘the relief of hardship, distress or ill-health of its members.’ Members should be actively involved in raising money for its charitable fund.
Since the establishment of the single entity charity the Nightingale Fellowship membership events must remain ancillary or incidental to the furtherance of the charitable purposes.
4. Closing down a charity seems like a huge task. Who will be assisting the Trustees with this?
We will work closely with The Trust Partnership (TTP) and take legal advice to ensure that the closure meets all the Charity Commission’s regulations.
5. You have made the decision to close, why not close now instead of waiting until 2025?
This date gives the Trustees almost 2 years to ensure a smooth closure and transition of the Benevolent Fund to a reputable organisation. There will also be time to plan some special celebrations
6. Are there Trustees willing to take the Fellowship forward to 2025?
Yes. There is a solid and experienced team of Trustees in post now, with excellent support from TTP. Trustees also must remain responsible for their decisions/actions for 5-6 years following closure as a Charity Commission requirement.
7. Why would I consider donating to the Fellowship if the plan is to close within the next 2 years?
We need to raise money for general administrative purposes, to reduce the percentage of support taken from the Benevolent Fund.
8. I have paid my annual subscription for years and I am now a Life member.
We are extremely grateful to those Life members who have paid their subscriptions, without fail, over so many years. Sadly, some people dip in and out of paying their subscriptions and join/re- join just in time to receive the benefits of Life membership. This is why we felt it was necessary to change the rules around Life membership and raise the qualifying age to 70 in 2019.
It must be noted that overall subscriptions barely covered the cost of printing and posting the Journal twice a year, let alone the other events, and the administrative costs incurred.
9. If Life members were asked to pay, and membership subscriptions were increased, could that prevent the closure of the Nightingale Fellowship?
This is unlikely as our membership will naturally
decrease during the next decade to a point where the burden on the charitable funds would be unsustainable.
1. What will happen to members’ personal details after closure?
The Trustees and TTP, who support the Fellowship with their administrative duties, take General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) responsibilities very seriously. They already ensure that all members’ personal details are stored appropriately and will ultimately ensure that they are destroyed appropriately.
2. Do I need to cancel my Standing Order?
You will be informed when this needs to be done.
3. Why do I have to continue to pay, when the Fellowship is going to close anyway?
The funds help with the general running costs of the alumni section of the Fellowship. Please see below re the Journal.
4. Journal – costs and online access
Non-charity finance is needed to cover running costs. The Journal has been very expensive to produce. In 2019 the cost of producing two Journals amounted to £26,000. As a result, in 2020, the Trustees decided to bring the editorial responsibility in- house reducing these costs. Costs could be reduced further, as more and more members are able, or choose, to access both the Journal and Fellowship news online. However, Trustees have to remain cognoscente of the fact that many Nightingales still do not have IT access.
5. How will I be able to keep in contact with the Nightingale Fellowship to know what is happening?
The Nightingale Fellowship website can keep you more up to date than the Journal because of the long lead time needed to produce it. By using the website, members will be kept fully informed of current events and activities. Newsletters are produced as necessary to ensure all members are updated outside of Journal publication timescales.
6. How will you provide me with information when I don’t have a computer, or know how to use technology?
Please contact The Trust Partnership (01285 841908) if you have absolutely no access to technology yourself either through friends, family, or your local library. We still need to know exactly how many members have this issue.
7. What do I get for my subscription
As a Full member of the Fellowship, you have access to the annual Chapel Service, AGM, and afternoon tea and an annual Journal. You can apply to the Benevolent Fund and access our administration team five days a week. You also have access to the members-only section of the Fellowship website, with advance notice of events and other useful information.
8. Why has the Nightingale Fellowship been unable to attract new members?
Despite several recruitment drives over the last 20 years it has been difficult to recruit new members. We have tried to recruit at tea parties, the AGM, and set reunions. We have also opened membership to nurses and midwives who have trained at King’s College London University, as well as to the Guy’s and St Thomas’ Trust (GSTT) new Nightingale Academy alumni. Sadly, there are a large number of Nightingales who trained prior to 1996 who have chosen not to join the Fellowship. For younger nurses the Fellowship Alumni is not something they feel any association with. Over 95% of our members trained prior to 1990.
1. Will I still be able to apply for a Benevolent Grant after the closure date?
We are working to ensure that the Benevolent Fund is both healthy and available to Fellowship members for the foreseeable future. Following closure, instructions on how to apply for benevolence will be sent to all existing members.
2. I currently benefit from the Benevolent Fund and am confident that all my details are kept private. Can you guarantee this going forward?
The Trustees currently work with Cavell Nurses’ Trust who administrator the Benevolent Fund to ensure that they work within GDPR and Charity Commission rules and regulations and adhere to the criteria as set out by the Trustees.
3. If the Benevolent Fund is open to all, how quickly will the money run out?
There is currently a substantial amount of money invested through our Investment Managers – Waverton Investment Management Ltd. The Trustees are confident that the legacies will benefit Nightingales for a number of years to come. Our aim is to boost the Benevolent Fund over the next few years to ensure a lasting legacy of benevolence in memory of the Fellowship.
4. Will there be money left after all Nightingales have died? Who will be able to use this?
The Trustees are working hard to ensure that there will be a legacy to leave more widely, to all nurses, once there are no longer any Nightingales alive. As guardians, the Trustees want to ensure that any money left will be administered with due diligence by an appropriately appointed successor organisation.
5. What will happen to all the benevolence money?
The Trustees will investigate and agree the best organisation to appropriately administer the Benevolent Fund and inform members accordingly.
6. If I have already left funds to the Nightingale Benevolent Fund in my will, what will happen to this now with closure in sight?
These funds would transfer automatically to the organisation chosen as the recipient of the Benevolent Fund.
Esmond Bequest and Sir Geoffrey Bateman Award (SGBA)
1. What has happened to the education funds?
The SGBA has been gifted by the SGB Trust to The Nightingale Academy to fund research internships. This has been match-funded with money from the Esmond Bequest.
The Trustees gifted the remainder of the Esmond Bequest to the Florence Nightingale Foundation an appropriate organisation in line with the original will of Mrs Esmond. These two actions have substantially reduced the Fellowship’s running costs and enabled the Trustees to concentrate on alumni and benevolence activity.
2. Why would I remain a member if those who trained at the Nightingale School but are not members, can access the Benevolent Fund?
We are confident that most members of the Nightingale Fellowship have joined in the spirit of the original 1928 ethos – that of keeping in touch, friendship with fellow alumni, and charitable giving for those in need and hardship. Nightingales have always been most generous in helping others – whether fellow Nightingales or not.
Keeping in touch with Nightingales, St Thomas’ and nursing
1.How will Nightingales keep in touch in the future?
It is hoped that over the next few years, self-organised Nightingale groups will prosper locally and set reunions will continue.
There is also the Guy and St Thomas’ Veterans’ Association which meets annually. Membership is open to doctors, nurses, allied health professionals and administrative and ancillary staff who have retired from St Thomas’.
Please contact, Fiona Geiger, Veterans’
Secretary, on [email protected]
or 0161 904 9835 for further information.
2a. Where are the local Nightingale groups?
2b. How do I find out about them?
2c. How often do they meet?
2d. Will I have to pay to join a local group?
Local Nightingale groups were established across the UK several years ago to encourage new members and raise awareness of the Benevolent Fund. Since 2018, the groups were re-ignited to organise local tea parties to celebrate Florence Nightingale’s bicentenary in 2020. In some parts of the UK they are flourishing, in others they are still embryonic. We also have groups overseas.
The development of local groups will be published on the Fellowship website, as well as in the Journal.
The frequency and type of meetings will depend on what is wanted locally, and support from volunteers.
It is possible that some groups may decide to charge for attendance, but it is hoped that all groups will also fundraise for the Benevolent Fund and other relevant charities, such as the Florence Nightingale Museum.
3. Is there a possibility that the annual chapel service could continue after the Fellowship closes?
This is something that will need to be discussed
with the Chaplaincy and the Chief Nurse as it requires substantial organisation and will incur costs.
4. What will happen to all the Nightingale badges and artefacts the Fellowship has in its possession?
The Trustees will ensure that right and proper transference of any assets will be part of the closure plan.
5. What should I do with my Nightingale badge?
Previously, badges were returned to the Fellowship for safe keeping, but this is no longer a requirement. Should you wish to keep your badge within your family you are at liberty to do so. Please do not return it to the Hospital or the Museum.
6. Will the badges in Central Hall remain?
These remain as part of the Project to renovate Central Hall.
7. Some years ago, the faculty at King’s College London (KCL) commissioned an art installation with many Nightingale badges. Can you reassure the members that these badges will not fall into the wrong hands?
These badges were gifted to KCL from the Nightingale Fellowship. We very much expect that the installation will remain at the faculty for many years to come, and transfer to any successor academic institution.
8. When the Fellowship closes, how will Miss Nightingale’s birthday continue to be acknowledged?
The Florence Nightingale Foundation organises an annual service at Westminster Abbey on the Wednesday before or after the 12th May. Any nurse can apply for free tickets to attend this service. The service marks International Nurses’ Day – timed to coincide, and to celebrate, Miss Nightingale’s birthday.
The Foundation have requested that Nightingales who are interested in attending this service join their Supporters database (no cost) to receive early bird notifications of service and tickets.
9. How can I maintain my interest in, and support for, nursing and nurses, as well as nursing fellowship?
There are several membership organisations which you could join to keep in touch with nursing colleagues and continue your interest in nursing.
The Royal College of Nursing – www.RCN.org.uk
The Worshipful Company of Nurses –
The European Association of History of Nursing – http://eahn.net/
The NHS Retirement Fellowship – nhsrf.org.uk
10. I want to visit the St Thomas’ site and stay in touch with what is going on at GSTT
You may be eligible to join the Veterans’ Association. Please contact the Secretary, on [email protected] or
0161 904 9835 for further information. for further details.
You can also visit the Florence Nightingale Museum.
GSTT have a very active website, and a You Tube, Facebook, and Twitter presence.
Please contact us via email: [email protected] with any questions that you feel have not been answered here or in the annual accounts that are published in the Journal.