Pension cuts and below inflation pay rises mean seasonal cheer is in short supply this year. So here’s a feelgood story to cheer you up this yuletide.
Last week, online editor Nadine Woogara and I watched the preview of the Benenden Healthcare documentary ‘Ahead of its Time’, charting the history of the mutual society. Originally set up in 1905 by Charles Garland to help Post Office workers who had caught tuberculosis, the society took small payments from the many (30,000 people) to benefit the few who would need the services of its hospital in Kent.
It is a shining example of an entrepreneur who improved (and saved) the lives of thousands. We were inspired by the notion behind the society, and emotionally affected by the success it had achieved - in terms of patient outcomes, experience and its financial longevity. Many of the principles behind Benenden are the same as those behind the NHS - the altruism of people contributing so that those who need the services can use the contributions of the many, who in turn hope they never need to take up the service they help to fund. That principle is still going strong in Benenden - which now boasts 930,000 members. And it’s one we hope will protect the NHS in the months ahead. After all, what better example of Big Society is there than the NHS?
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