Dilke Hospital League of Friends Blandford Hospital League of Friends All Hallows Hospital Garden
The creation of the NHS, and the challenge it made to that culture of local responsibility resulted in many voluntary groups being disbanded but it soon became clear that volunteers or Leagues of Friends were still very much in demand.
With the recommendation of the British Hospital Association, to set up Leagues of Friends or similar organisation 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.
As membership to NALFH continued to diversify and grow the name was changed in 2006 to ATTEND - meaning to respond, reach out and to give care.
Not all Leagues of Friends are members of ATTEND and many, but not all, are registered with the Charity Commission but all have the same ethos of supporting their local community and hospital.
Over the years the Leagues of Friends have traditionally provided financial contributions and support which has funded equipment, building, redevelopment, staffing initiatives and transport. Other functions included hospital libraries, coffee bars, hospital shops and services such as providing voluntary help with areas such as 'hospital trolley's' and serving refreshments to visitors.
More recently community hospital Leagues of Friends have supported staff in training and development opportunities and attendance at conferences. They have actively been involved in consultation processes and 'local voices' groups where consultations on changes to local hospital services have taken place. Many of the traditional activities continue but there have more involvement in not just the community hospital but also reaching out to the wider local community.
The CHA have recognised Leagues of Friends with their Innovations and Best Practice Awards for schemes, and in 2017 when both Blandford League of Friends and Friends of Crowborough received awards and now have national recognition.