Infant Welfare Centre Opened at Denaby Main – Appeal to Mothers.

June 1921

Mexborough & Swinton Times – Saturday 25 June 1921

Infant Welfare Centre Opened at Denaby Main.

Lady Mabel Smith’s Appeal to Mothers.

Father Leteux On “Ambulance Work.”

An Army hut has been provided and erected by the County Council, opposite the Balby Street Schools, Denaby Main, and equipped for use as an infant welfare and medical centre and school clinic, and has  placed under the care of Nurse Swallow, the school nurse for that district under the County Council.

The building was formally opened by Lady Mabel Smith at a ceremony held on Monday afternoon.

The hut was tastefully laid out with cots and cradles, toys and many specimens of the handicraft of the children at the school, and was examined with curiosity and interest by a large assembly of mothers, drawn from the neighbourhood.

The ceremonial part of the proceedings was held in the schoolroom, where Mr Frank Ogley, C.C.of Hill Top, Conisborough, presided over an audience in which mothers and babies, the latter in various stages of restlessness, largely predominated. He was supported on the platform by Lady Mabel Smith, Doctor Lawrence, of the Public health Department of the County Council, the Rev. W.A. Strawbridge, vicar of Conisborough, the Reverend C Leteux, Roman Catholic priest of Denaby Main; Councillor J Brocklesby, H Hulley, J Sheldon, S.C. Urch, and R Williamson, Doctor WJ McClure, Mr Tom Hill, and Mr Arthur Roberts.

Healthy Children v Military Conquests

The Chairman briefly introduce the speakers, and Doctor Lauren spoke interestedly and at some length on the general subject of the child welfare movement, which, he said, the County Council were prosecuting as vigourously as their straightened finances allowed. It was in no sense a threat, but he thought it right to mention it, that the County Council were having to decline requests and the various parts of the West Riding for these clinics and centres, and it followed that with the demand so much greater than the Council’s power to supply, centres would not be continued in district where they were not appreciated or used or where the desired results were not obtainable, and will be transferred to other districts where the need and desire for them was greater. It was deplorable that so little money, comparatively was available for this priceless work.

The cash value of the perfectly healthy child was higher than that of a military conquest (hear, hear). Money could be provided for war, yet it could hardly be obtained for child welfare centres. He would like everybody to take up a determined convinced attitude on this question, and insist that the conservation of child life should be a pretty paramount consideration with the nation (hear here).

A good part of our troubles at the present time arose from the fact that we could not cash our military conquests.

Doctor Lawrence proceeded to give a great deal of useful advice to young mothers. He urged them not to view the clinic with jealousy. There will be no loss of “mothering.” They would be able to “mother” their babies at the clinic just the same as if they kept them at home, only to better purpose. It was to mothers that they look to make these welfare centres a great success. They might yet be able to establish “paternity centres,” which were just as much needed, but it would be an excellent idea, in the meantime, to persuade fathers to visit the centre occasionally and see what was done there. It would enlighten them in one particular, and would also help the mothers, by showing them what could be done with money wisely spent on their children. (Applause.)

Beginning at the End

Lady Mabel Smith congratulated the Conisborough Urban District and having secured the centre. Many districts were clamouring for the centres, and Coniborough is rather fortunate that its claims have been considered so early. She saw the district and obtain two important and powerful assets in the urban powers recently conferred upon them, and in the maternity and child welfare centre which was open that day, and she believes that Conisborough would make the fullest use of the new opportunities which have been given that district to improve its social and hygienic conditions.

Doctor Lawrence has spoken of the limitations in which they were working, but she was constantly urging the County Council to make themselves as tiresome as possible to the Ministry of Health until they obtained a large part what they thought they ought to have for the health and uplifting of the district for which they were responsible.

Up to the present, in dealing with social problems, this nation, instead of building beginning at the beginning, with a child before birth there been at the end by building prisons, lunatic asylum, and workhouses. (Hear, hear). She wished every woman would bring an influence to bear in favour of the movement that was designed to reverse that policy. She agreed that economy was very necessary at the present time and at all times, but it was false economy surely to suffer children to be weak and sickly for want of the means to make them well and strong and intelligent and useful.

She had no doubt that the new centre will be a success; though Doctor Lawrence had properly reminded them that if it was not, it would be taken away and given to one of the districts that had asked for it. There were two clinics in the district (Ecclesfield) she was responsible for, and the mothers appreciated them so much that they came over and over again, sometimes when the clinic was not open.

The clinic at Denaby Main will be supervised, for the present by Doctor Tyrrell of Wakefield, who would gladly give all the advice he was asked for, and more. She hoped that through this clinic women of that district will get into close and amicable touch with each other, having a common interest in babyhood, and would help each other in many practical ways. She hoped also, that by this means mothers will develop a public spirit and would grow to insist more and more upon women been admitted to a voice in the regulation of conditions upon which so much human health and domestic happiness depended.

They had a new Urban District Council at Conisborough, and she believed that he was a very good one, but is had at least the one defect that it did not include a woman (laughter and hear, hear). The mothers of that locality will find the clinic immensely useful to them. There must be hundreds of little things a young mother ought to know and want to know and could get to know their. If their children were delicate and ailing, they need not despair. She herself was very delicate up to the age of five, but by careful and sensible nursing she grew strong and vigorous.

It was all a question of taking proper precautions, and of knowing what precautions to take. She would like the men to help. There was plenty of rough work about the clinic that they could do. They might even be admitted to seats on the clinic committee (laughter). Some years ago, during a coal strike, she found men very useful for boiling (laughter). She hoped and believed that the centre will be a great success. She perceived a desire for it, and a determination to take the fullest advantage of it. (Applause.)

Mr John Brocklesby, proposing a vote of thanks to Lady Mabel Smith, humorously referred to the chorus of scores on the babies in the audience, and said that when he was a baby’s his mother would never suffer him to cry, with the result that his vocal powers were never fully developed, and he was not now in a condition to compete with babies brought up according to modern ideas. (Laughter).

(Ambulance Work”

fatherly toe seconded the vote of thanks and referred to claims and welfare centres as a kind of “ambulance work” which he was very glad to help in the upmost of his power, though he regretted the necessity for it.

In his native Connemara, where there were no nurses and doctors, nothing but pure air and clean surroundings, the death rate among infants was 13 per thousand. In one of the horrible slums of Sheffield, which he administered, it was nearly 200. This movement was doing an admirable work, but it did not go to the root of the evil. He was a treating of symptoms.

During the war, when wages were high, homes were happier and children were healthier. The working class men and women knew what their children wanted and would spend money freely on them if they had it. (Hear, hear). Clinics were no new things. They had had one at Hemsworth for years. When he was at Hemsworth he had a bedroom 20 feet high. Here, his bedroom was not more than 9 feet high, and he could hardly sleep for a few nights, until he got used to the restricted airspace. What must it be like in “Packies Puzzles?” (Laughter.)

If they could not get to the root of the conditions under which people had to live, a great deal of this “ambulance work,” which they were carrying on, would not be necessary. (Applause).

Afterwards the mothers were given T in the new centre, which was inspected by them, and nurse Swallow enrolled a large number as attendance at the clinic.

Messrs Kilner Brothers had sent to the clinic half a dozen valuable glass Jardinières, for storing dressings.

In connection with the clinic is his job to form sewing classes and thrift clubs.