Mildmay’s origins stretch back to the mid-1860s and the work carried out by The Reverend William Pennefather, a vicar at St Judes, and his wife Catherine. St Judes which was located in Mildmay Park, Islington, was a lively Victorian church of over 1,000 people . William developed a number of projects known collectively as Mildmay Institutions, providing spiritual guidance and care for the sick. In 1866 there was a cholera outbreak in East London. Two of the Mildmay deaconesses, trained by Catherine, volunteered to go into some of London’s worst slums, where even the police feared to enter, to care for the sick and their dependents. This response to the Cholera outbreak, by reaching out to those in great need, formed Mildmay’s first nursing service.
The work of the deaconesses developed and expanded and within a few years the first Mission Hospital was established in a disused warehouse near to Shoreditch Church. It consisted of twenty-seven beds in three wards, one doctor, three nurses and five deaconesses in training. In 1892 Mildmay Mission Hospital opened, becoming a part of the National Health Service in 1948. As a hospital with less than 200 beds it was regarded as uneconomic and was closed down in 1982.
Mildmay’s Board under the Chair Helen Taylor Thompson, alongside many loyal supporters, began the fight for survival. After many setbacks approval was given for Mildmay to reopen in 1988 as Europe’s first hospice caring for people with AIDS related illnesses. Princess Diana made many visits both officially and unofficially and famously shook hands with a patient at the height of fear around the condition, helping to break down some of the stigma surrounding HIV.
As medication developed and need changed, Mildmay quickly changed its focus from end of life care to specialised assessment and rehabilitation.
Today Mildmay is at the forefront of specialist HIV service delivery and care, continuing to adapt and respond to meet new, often complex, and rapidly changing needs. Mildmay’s new purpose-built hospital opened in September 2014 in East London, just a stones throw from where Mildmay’s original work began. We are Europe’s only centre dedicated to the rehabilitation for people living with HIV associated neurocognitive disorders. Mildmay’s two inpatient wards are named Catherine Ward and William Ward after our founders.
In December 2015 Prince Harry officially opened Mildmay’s new hospital, cutting our anniversary cake to mark the opening of our 150th anniversary celebrations in 2016.
Mildmay is grateful to all our incredible supporters, Trusts, volunteers and staff who share in our proud achievements over the years, that could not have been realised without their generous support.
In the 1990s, Mildmay was called to extend its expertise to some of the areas where HIV and AIDS were hitting hardest – firstly Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya then Zimbabwe and Rwanda and later into Eastern Europe.
Mildmay currently supports over 100 thousand people living with HIV in East Africa. Our ground breaking work in this region encompasses training and education as well as comprehensive health and HIV care. Our work in Africa has expanded to address and treat other HIV-related conditions, including screening and treatment for: TB, STI’s and cervical cancer. We work with some of the most vulnerable and hard to reach adults and children, enabling them to grow and realise their potential. We continue to mobilise communities, developing local partnerships and helping to build in-country capacity that is sustainable. Some of our international work has been scaled back as funded projects come to an end. In many respects this marks the successful conclusion of programmes, as Mildmay will hand over a legacy of work to government or to local organisations.
For more information about our work in Uganda go to : http://www.mildmay.or.ug/
For more information about our work in Kenya go to: https://www.mildmay.org/overseas/kenya/