The Health and Social Welfare Working Group is very conscious of the fact that many deaths and much illness are the result of social causes. Every year some 120,000 deaths are caused by smoking, 31,000 premature deaths are caused by obesity and 33,000 deaths are alcohol-related. Indeed, three-quarters of all British deaths are the result of cancerous and circulatory problems, many of them the consequence of wrongful life-style choices. It is not alarmist to speak of these as epidemics. The Victorians were faced with an entirely different set of epidemics, such as cholera and typhus, mainly the result of poor sanitation and the like. Thus their public health concerns were about fresh water and proper sewerage. Such has been the success of these programmes that only 2% of British deaths are now caused by fevers.
Today the call is for advice and treatments that address the social constructs of everyday life. There are centres elsewhere in the country that concentrate on the provision of cross-disciplinary services, that is where the NHS, the local authority social and welfare services and charities involved with such issues collect to provide assistance;
the supply of user-friendly services in a warm and welcoming environment, with refreshments and other social amenities on tap;
the involvement of lay people and users in the running and volunteer staffing of the facilities.
It is the strongly held view of the Working Group that the Red House is compellingly situated to adopt such a fundamental role:
it is well-known and well-liked
it is reasonably accessible and is a bequest to the community
it is, above all, there – it is available.
This is our vision. Our first hope is to stimulate debate. Our second hope is that the debate will quickly lead to the undertaking of a feasibility study. This would examine what all this would entail in terms of the physical needs of the buildings themselves, what the clinical and allied aspects might be, how the 'Wellness' Centre might be organised and administered and what the financial requirements would be. It is an ambitious proposal but few in Harpenden would disagree that the Red House merits such decent ambition.
The full proposal has now been launched. The Health and Social Welfare Working Group commends it to the Society's membership and looks forward to finding many members in full support of this plan.
For and on behalf of the Health and Social Welfare Working Group.
Report by Eric Midwinter
He thought their zeal ‘a little parochial’ and suggested that their members should consider joining the Society and supporting its fight on wider issues because ‘as far as development goes in Harpenden their battle is just the beginning’. Hot planning issues which no doubt concerned these maverick groups were the disposal by the National Children’s Home of their Highfield Oval property; (above, left) the redevelopment of the Harpenden Motors site in the High Street; and the redevelopment of 5-17 Milton Road.
The death was reported of Helen Finnie (a Vice-Chairman of the Society) who ran Mary Ellen’s Restaurant from the 1920s until 1960, which later became the Inn on the Green. The public were invited to report overhanging trees or hedges, pot-holes and other obstacles on specially printed District Council Report Cards available from Harpenden Hall. After completion they could be dropped through the letter box of the main door and a daily courier service would take them to St Albans. All done in seconds with a few clicks on the appropriate website today, of course, but am I right in thinking that despite this revolution in communication we actually have rather more pot-holes than we did then?
(Alan Jackson is the committee member who is Convenor of the Public Order Working Group)