League of Friends Update  –  May 2018

I just wanted to provide a quick update on items that might be of interest to our followers on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn social media platforms. You can respond (if you’d like to) in the comments box below.

Hopefully you know that this year the League of Friends is celebrating 60 years of service to the Staffordshire community. We are planning some fun events to mark this remarkable anniversary. You’ll be able to find details on the usual social media platforms and our events page.

We provide catering services to 3 local hospitals, Cannock Chase Hospital, St Georges Hospital and County Hospital, Stafford.  The League of Friends is very grateful for the continued help and support from our 60 volunteers, we really could not deliver our highly appreciated services to patients and staff without their freely given time and expertise. 

We will be publishing some of our volunteers inspirational stories this year, volunteering is such a rewarding experience and we are targeting an increase in our volunteer numbers to over 80 by the end of 2018.

The League of Friends is in the process of arranging the refurbishment of the Coffee Bar at County Hospital in collaboration with North Staffordshire University Hospital.  We will continue to update the website of the progress of this work.

On the Supported Housing front, the League of Friends now has a single person flat in Penkridge and are also going to provide more accommodation and services by branching out into Cannock, having 2 single person flats available early summer.

As we are a regulated charity, we hold an Annual General Meeting and this year’s meeting is to be held on Thursday 17th May. At the meeting we make important decisions regarding our charity and inform members, stakeholders, trustees and funders about the direction we are taking.  We also publish the charities accounts.  The meeting is open to members of the public as well, if you would like an invite, details of where the meeting is being held, or copies of the published documents,  just email admin@sclohf.co.uk. We do look forward to meeting you but please let us you know that you will be attending for catering purposes.

It is important to me as the Charity’s Chief Executive that our audience of funders and other stakeholders get to understand more about the services we provide, so from next month we will publish the first of our “League of Friends stories”, which will be provided from our staff, volunteers, clients, patients, etc.

Martin Thornley, Chief Executive

Stafford and Cannock League of Hospital Friends

Our Chief Execs View

Martin Thornley
Chief Executive

Having joined Stafford and Cannock League of Hospital Friends as Chief Executive in January 2017, it gives me great please to reflect on the achievements of the organisation in what was a very difficult period and also highlight the plans that we have for 2017 to ensure that we grow our services to be sustainable for the future.

Firstly, I would like to say a personal thank you to our 70 active volunteers that tirelessly work in our coffee bars and trolley services in the three hospital in Stafford and Cannock. Without our volunteers supporting patients, staff and visitors this would not be possible and in 2016 alone they carried out an amazing 10,775 hours of volunteering.

During 2016 the County Volunteers lead by Sylvia Peat commenced a monthly table top sale within the hospital and raised £1,248.17.

Looking to the future, these sales will continue at County Hospital and in additional will commence at Cannock Hospital.


Our trolley services visit the wards at Cannock and County Hospitals Monday to Friday and it is our intention to trial this service at weekends at Cannock Hospital and to investigate the possibility of a similar service for patients at St George’ s Hospital.

We were able to continue to make donations to the three hospitals that we work with during 2016, although this was only possible by drawing on our planned reserves. A £5,000 donation to St George’ s Hospital and £6,000 to County Hospitals were both used to support projects for Arts for Health.

Working with the Facilities staff at Cannock Hospital their donation of £13,375 funded a number of initiatives to improve the environment for patients, staff and visitors including redecoration of a quiet room and purchase ofa summer house and garden benches for patio areas.

As our hospital partners provide facilities in which we operate our services it was felt appropriate that donations should reflect the income and facilities provided to our coffee bar and trolley services.

Martin Thornley

Saint Mary’s Christmas Tree Festival, Stafford

The Editor
She’s The Editor

Saint Mary’s Church held their annual Christmas Tree Festival from 29th November to Sunday 3rd December 2017.

The festival ran in conjunction with Stafford Town Centre Partnership.

Last year’s Festival was the largest ever.  There were 80 trees on display and over 6500 visitors.

The Festival ended with a Carol Service on Sunday 3rd December 2017 at 2.30 p.m.

Stafford & Cannock League of Hospital Friends took part in this Festival and decorated the Christmas Tree with photos of some of our volunteers who work voluntary at our Coffee Bars in our local hospitals in Stafford and Cannock.

If anyone is interested in joining our team of volunteers please contact Emma either on 01785 413234 or email:  emma.o’gara@sclohf.co.uk

Major Gardening Time!

Trish Hughes

Housing Inclusion Manager

We were delighted to welcome Stoke City’s Julien Ngoy and our partners PM Training, to one of our supported housing properties in Stafford.

The  garden has been transformed by a partnership between the Club and PM Training, a local company that train young people to help them to get into work.

We’re very pleased to acknowledge the funding of the makeover by the Stoke City Community Trust.

Some of their apprentices worked on the project which saw the outside space at the property given a complete makeover.


Patricia Hughes, Housing Inclusion Manager for the League of Friends, explained: “The previous tenant didn’t leave the house in a particularly good state and the garden was pretty basic

“Most of the people who will be using the house have children and they highlighted the fact that they’d like somewhere to get a little peace and quiet; a tranquil garden for them to enjoy. They’ve now got that, thanks to the Stoke City Community Trust and PM Training.”

Adrian Hurst, Head of Stoke City Community Trust, added: “We’re delighted to have invested in the League of Friends’ garden redevelopment in partnership with PM Training.


Luxury Hamper Raffles, Good Luck!

The Editor

She’s The Editor

Just time for a quick bit of news. We’re fundraising at our hospitals, that’s Cannock Chase, St.Georges and County Hospital Stafford with a special Xmas  Luxury Hamper raffle.

The hampers (did we say Luxury hampers?) have been very kindly donated by our Trustees, Staff, Volunteers and Suppliers.

You can buy your tickets at the hospitals and the draw is being made on 15th December,  hope you take part and Good Luck!

The Editor

Supported Housing in Stafford

Martin Thornley
Chief Executive
Official Opening of the Dry House

As an organisation we will continue to evaluate our services and working with our partner organisations develop these to ensure that we meet the needs of the changing environment in which we operate.

One example of this is our plan to change our Coffee Bar at St George’ s Hospital into a convenience store that will support their patients.

Another example is the work that we have been undertaking to ensure that our Coffee Bars are compliant with the NHS Commissioning for Quality and Innovation guidance (CQUIN). This guidance aims to secure improvements in quality of service for patients and I am pleased to report that we are now compliant with this guidance.

It has been necessary for us to increase the prices in our coffee bars and trolley services as it has not been possible for us to absorb the increased costs from our suppliers. We recognise that staff working in the hospitals are frequent customers and have introduced a staff loyalty scheme for drinks.

The Stafford and Cannock League of Friends is quite an unusual charity, in that it not only provides the traditional coffee bar facilities within hospitals but also provides supported housing for clients with enduring mental illness.

We have used the need to move our accommodation, to review requirements and expectations of our residents and referring partners. We have now moved away from the larger institutional type accommodation we had at New Burton House to smaller properties based in Stafford.

In addition we identified the need to provide accommodation for Veterans and working with the Royal British Legion and SSAFA the Armed Forces Charity have successfully established places for four residents. During 2017 we will be opening a “ dry house”  to support four residents to live independently whilst continuing their rehabilitation.

Our service has traditionally been provided to single males which reflected referrals and our accommodation.

Our plan for 2017 is to ensure that we can provide accommodation for females if required and to provide a family home.

Working with the Board of Trustees and our Staff my aim is to ensure that during 2017 we develop a robust Business Plan that will ensure that the Charity will grow in a sustainable way to meet the future needs of our partner organisations and their patients.

Martin Thornley




Annual Review 2016

Harold Bould

This has been my first year as Chairman and it has been a very eventful year. We found ourselves having to deal with a number of challenges some expected but a number completely unexpected and time consuming. We were given notice to vacate our office and residential accommodation by the end of 2016 due to redevelopment of the New Burton House site. Following an extensive property search around the Stafford area, we finally re- located our head office operations at the later end of 2016, into Caxton House, which  is located on North Walls, Stafford.

We were also faced with the challenge of finding and moving 16 of our tenants who were in the residential accommodation. We used the need to move as an opportunity to review the requirements for our Housing operation and the requirements and expectations of our residents and future referrals.

The outcome of this review was to seek small properties and to move away from the larger institutional type accommodation we had at New Burton House.

I am pleased to report that we have now completed this change and we are now better placed to meet the needs of our referring partners.

Unfortunately, we have incurred additional expenditure as a direct result of the relocation and this is reflected within the years results and outlined in the Treasurers report.

During 2016 the Board also had to deal with unexpected staff issues. These have now been fully resolved and procedures and policies reviewed to ensure that the issues identified have been addressed.

My thanks have to go to our staff and fellow Trustees who helped to ensure that the staff issues did not impact on the day to day operation of the organisation.

We planned our budget for the year to take account of these exceptionalone- of costs and we have managed our operations accordingly and also maintained donations to the hospital Trusts with planned use of reserves.

Last year the Board of Trustees identified the need to appoint a Chief Executive to oversee the organisations activities and I am delighted to report that following an extensive recruitment and interview process, Martin Thornley was appointed to the role in January 2017.

Other staff changes have resulted with the promotion of Zoe Pyatt to the role of Housing Manager and Zoe Davis appointed as Volunteer coordinator. We have also welcomed Peter Ramshaw to the role of Deputy Housing Manager and Trish Hughes as Inclusion Worker.

As always we rely on our loyal volunteers to run the coffee bars and the essential ward rounds. To recognise how essential our volunteers are, we will be introducing a new friend’s scheme by way of ensuring their views can be incorporated into the future plans for our charity.

We also welcome Luke Stanley as a Trustee; Luke has a wealth of experience in catering and is an asset to our Charity. We are now in discussions with the hospital trusts we work with to ensure that our catering service is a benefit to the patients, visitors and staff at all our outlets.

I believe we are now well placed to build upon the changes and improvements made within the last year and I look forward to the future with this stronger and experienced team.

Harold Bould

Hello and Welcome

Martin Thornley

Chief Executive

Hi, I’m Martin Thornley, Chief Executive of the Stafford and Cannock League of Hospital Friends. I was appointed into this new role for the charity in January 2017 and I’d like to welcome you to our new presence, our home on the web.

I’ve previously worked as a senior manager within the NHS for over 38 years and look forward with relish to this exciting role in a unique charity, much more about that later.

I’ve been brought into the organisation to develop and increase the services that the organisation offers particularly around supported housing where we provide help, assistance and guidance to clients who require more than ‘just’ a safe place to live, where they may require support on a regular basis on issues such as paying bills, making appointments, gaining employment and many other activities.

My daily activities revolve around managing our teams as they support clients, regular contact with our partner organisations from the NHS to welfare organisations. What do I do at these get -togethers? Well for one we’re planing for changes that are coming to housing benefit, currently expected in 2020 which might seem some way off but early planning will ensure our clients are supported through such significant changes.

The most challenging aspect of the job is ensuring that we have sufficient funding streams to meet our business plan objectives, we have to find our own funding in the main and an example of this work is the relationship we have with the Royal British Legion where we’ve recently created the Veterans Supported Housing Project, much more info coming about that over the next couple of months.

The most enjoyable aspect of my job is to see the effect on both the staff and service users of successful ‘outcomes’ seeing how we affect peoples lives for the better in so many ways. The pride this generates around the local community is a fantastic thing to be part of.

I’m also closely involved in creating and strengthening our relationships with local mental health providers, not only in giving us more positive outcomes but increasing our client’s length of stay.

I hope you find the site more than useful, speak to you soon