Two volunteers are distraught after being told they are no longer needed after four decades of service
Two volunteers have been left distraught after they were forced to leave an NHS baby clinic where they worked for more than 40 years.
One of the volunteers, Mary Pain, 68, donated her time every Wednesday afternoon to support health visitors at Frogmore Baby Clinic in Yateley.
She turned up to do her normal shift on August 21, only to receive a letter from the Southern Health Foundation NHS Trust saying her service was no longer needed.
The letter read: “It is with regret that we have to inform you that the Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust have made the decision to no longer work with volunteers in our clinics.
“Due to a governmental reason, it is a decision that will be effective immediately in all areas of the children’s division.
“Thank you for all your hard work and dedication over the years.”
Mrs Pain, from Darby Green, said: “I really enjoyed helping there, it feels like a slap in the face after 40 years.
“It was completely out of the blue.
“Volunteering has been part of my life and all we got was a short letter saying thanks and goodbye.
“The health visitors were so embarrassed when they found out they did not know what to say.”
Mrs Pain started volunteering after she visited with her son 43-years-ago to get him weighed.
After attending for some time, she got talking to the staff and she found she could volunteer there for a few hours a week. She got to know the mothers who brought their babies into the clinic each week to get weighed.
“I was given no chance to say goodbye to all the mums,” she said. “It is really sad. I fail to realise why we cannot volunteer there anymore.
“We always hear how essential volunteers are in the area.”
The second volunteer, an 84-year-old woman who does not want to be named, also received a letter last week terminating her service at the clinic.
Mrs Pain said: “For the other lady, volunteering made her get out of the house. She had been very ill recently, but getting back into the clinic was the first thing she did.”
Mrs Pain continues to work weekends in the CRB department at Frimley Park Hospital.
Speaking of her lengthy service at Frogmore’s baby clinic, she said: “Over the 40 years, the clinic has changed dramatically.
“It may have been just two hours a week at the clinic, but it involved a lot more of my time.
“When I think of some of the things that have stood out over the years, I remember standing on the picket line in Farnham 40 years ago protesting about baby milk.
“When I first started volunteering, the clinic provided baby milk to mothers with tokens as there were no supermarkets around.
“One time, mothers had to collect the milk from my house.”
The clinic used to be based at St Barnabas Church until five years ago.
A trust spokesman said: “Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust really values the support we receive from our volunteers.
“We would like to apologise for any upset caused by the recent decision to reduce the number of volunteers in this location.
“We would welcome the opportunity to discuss future volunteering opportunities within our trust with any of the volunteers affected by this decision.
“We would like to thank all our volunteers for all their hard work and dedication.”