I am honoured and delighted to be following Mark Mason, and indeed all the previous Presidents of the Grateful Society who have contributed so much to the well-being of older people in Bristol and the surrounding area over so many years. When initially asked to become President I thought that I had a good insight into the work of the Society within the community. The last twelve months serving as President Elect to Mark has opened my eyes to the fact that in reality I had very little knowledge about the way in which the funds that the Society collects are utilised, although of course as a clinician I have some insight into what the pressing needs are to allow older people to flourish with health and dignity in their homes. I am a Paediatrician by background, but the principles are not so far removed from those which relate to the care of the elderly, where we aim to deliver the same holistic and family centered community care to both of these vulnerable populations.
We have tried to provide an insight within this site to the types of organisations which are helped by the grants provided by the Grateful Society. As a general principle we are keen to provide seed funding to organisations to enable them to establish themselves and grow. The recipients of the grants are all incredibly appreciative and in some cases the money provided is absolutely essential to the continuance of the activities which the charities concerned are providing.
There is no doubt that the public purse is shrinking when it comes to the elderly and the provision of care and help to ensure that our senior citizens can grow old with the self-respect they deserve, and with a few small comforts is under ever greater pressure. The day centres that the Grateful supports are all fine examples of what can be achieved with relatively little funding. The participants are able to engage with other human beings in a warm and safe environment. This basic principle is taken for granted by many of us but a few moments spent talking to a selection of the many volunteers made me realise that for some it is a real privilege. The alleviation of loneliness is a key theme for the Grateful Society and is at the heart of what we do.
I am hoping to visit many of the centres which we support throughout my year, and I truly look forward to hearing at first-hand what we can do to continue to provide help where it is most needed. Those experiences will be shared through this site from time to time. I also hope to explore some new and innovative ways that we can support older people, drawing from my experience in health and knowledge of the current prevailing Health Policy, which seeks locally to address frailty by establishing a new community-based model of care for people with complex needs, and doing this in partnership across the sector.
Finally can I say a big thank you to Robert Drewett and his firm Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP for all the help he is providing to me and the Society. This role has for many years been undertaken by June Anderson and again we are grateful to June for those efforts as without that expertise and the support now being provided by Robert and Womble Bond Dickinson the role of the President would be far more onerous. An equal thank you is due to Mark Hill and Saffery Champness for their expert help in assisting with the finances of the Society. The willingness of individuals and firms to provide support in this way means that we can radically reduce our overhead costs and ensure that as high a proportion of gifts received are used for direct charitable purposes, but importantly too it demonstrates that we all share a passion for this one mission – to improve the health and wellbeing of the senior members of our society.
Dr Jacqueline Cornish OBE FRCP (London) Hon FRCPCH DSc (Hon)