The Iolanthe Midwifery Trust has a yearly cycle of activity, each of the stages falling under headline categories probably familiar to all charities: getting the money in; getting the money out – as much as possible to the charitable recipients; and ensuring through proper governance that we not only comply with Charity Commission requirements but are transparent and user-friendly in the ways we work.
During the early spring, we were busy seeking out the passionate and innovative midwives and students who would be helped to fulfil their dreams with one of the annual grants we are able to give. You can now see who the lucky winners were on the Iolanthe website http://www.iolanthe.org/Latest_news.html. For those who may be interested in applying in future years, here is a little more about the process of deciding on the winners.
Applications arrive over a three-month period from November to January. The trustees spend several weeks reading carefully through all those received – over 70 in some years – and scoring them according to a rigorous set of criteria. These include the quality of the application, the main purpose of the project, its professional value and cost-effectiveness. We also need to be assured that the applicant has support from her or his tutor or employer, and that the activity will not bring the charity into disrepute.
There are often applications that reflect a story of hardship or unusually testing challenges in the life of a student or midwife and these present particularly difficult decisions. As the overall goal of the charity is to improve care, we cannot make special efforts to fund individual applicants unless they have demonstrated an exceptional commitment to midwifery – rather than an exceptionally hard road travelled. Nevertheless, we have this year enabled the assessors to use one scoring point (out of 25) at their own discretion, which can go to support those who appear to have special financial need.
The final decisions are made at a face-to-face meeting in March, when we know how much money is in the funds and how far it can be stretched.
As in most years, the students applying in 2012 have had some truly wonderful ideas for their elective placements. There were plans to travel the globe, seeking experience of the way that women birth and midwives work in Australia, Canada, Ethiopia, Ghana, Haiti, Hawaii, India, Kenya, Madagascar, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka, Tanzania and Uganda. But there are also students who want to study in more detail the variations in practice between urban and rural practice in the UK, a difference that can be almost as much of a culture shock as getting off a long-haul flight to the other side of the world. Pictured are Tessa Henderson and Alice Gautreau, winners of one of the Iolanthe Student Awards. Tessa and Alice, both from Edinburgh Napier University, travelled to Ethiopia to spend time at the Gimbie Adventist Hospital.
We wish them all well and hope sincerely that even those who sadly didn’t get an Iolanthe award will live their dreams and get an enriching experience out of their placements.
A UK charity governed by midwives across the UK
The charity’s work is governed by its body of trustees, the majority of whom are midwives. We’ve been delighted over the past year to learn that no less than three of them have been offered new and prestigious roles in their academic careers, in Scotland, Wales and England. Ruth Deery was appointed as Professor of Maternal Health at the University of the West of Scotland in September 2011; Billie Hunter in February 2012 as Professor of Midwifery Research, a new role at Cardiff University supported by the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) and the Welsh Government; and Vanora Hundley in March 2012 as Professor of Midwifery in the School of Health & Social Care at Bournemouth University.
It is inspiring for the charity to have these trustees working alongside the others, including the chair, Dr Helen Cheyne, and midwives
Uniquely, the Iolanthe Midwifery Trust – now in its 30th year – is a charity run by midwives for midwives, and supported by midwives. We acknowledge with gratitude the financial and promotional assistance from MIDIRS, and the support of many individuals, including brave midwives Julia Sanders and Mary Stewart who ran the London Marathon on our behalf on April 22nd. Thank you all!
Contributor: Elizabeth Duff, Iolanthe Midwifery Trust
Photo credit: Tessa Henderson and Alice Gautreau