Vetlife has revised its governing documents to provide for broader representation of veterinary professionals. This follows a review by the Vetlife Board of Trustees of its Articles and Memorandum of Association, parts of which date as far back as 1919. With the most recent partial review last conducted in 2008, the Board had identified a need for the charity to better reflect current multidisciplinary team approaches to veterinary services.
Additional to consolidating its previous two lengthy documents into one set of governing Articles, the charity has also adapted its approved means of communication and governance to enable more modern electronic means of participation than could ever have been envisaged in the early part of the previous century. As part of the process, the trustees have also taken the opportunity finally to change the official registered name from the historic title of the Veterinary Benevolent Fund to that of Vetlife. The resulting proposed new Articles of Association were unanimously approved at a recent Extraordinary General Meeting of the charity’s membership.
Veterinary nurses now eligible for full membership
The changes to the Articles embrace registered veterinary nurses as an integral part of the veterinary professional team. The new Articles extend the charitable objects of Vetlife to include all veterinarians and veterinary nurses on the professional registers of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons. They also entitle registered veterinary nurses to become full Vetlife members and to stand for nomination as trustees, enabling a more balanced representation of the veterinary professional team, and providing the opportunity for nurses to add their expertise and experience to the future direction of the charity.
Increased support for veterinary nurses
Veterinary nurses have been amongst the many in the veterinary community who have made use of the Vetlife Helpline since its creation 30 years ago. The changes to the charitable objects of the charity mean that the Vetlife Financial Support service, the part of the charity which for more than a century has offered financial support to veterinary surgeons and their dependants in the UK, will also be able to consider future applications for financial aid from veterinary nurses in need.
Reflecting on the updates, British Veterinary Nurse Association (BVNA) JVP Charlotte Pace said:
“The BVNA is very excited about this development that now recognises the contribution of veterinary nurses. We hope that allowing veterinary nurses to stand for nomination as trustees will allow our voices to be heard far and wide. Veterinary nurses, just like vets, have pressures and demands in and outside the workplace, that sometimes can benefit from a little outside help, especially from such great charities like Vetlife. BVNA is proud to be working with Vetlife in the coming years.”
“We’re so pleased to see that Vetlife’s work has now expanded”
Dr Kate Richards, RCVS President said: “The RCVS has long championed the incredible work that Vetlife does to support the mental health of the veterinary professions. As a Vetlife volunteer, I know that their trusted and compassionate support services impact the lives of veterinary professionals who are experiencing mental health difficulties.
“Our Mind Matters Initiative has three streams of work: prevent, protect and support. It’s in recognising Vetlife’s work under this last heading that we make a substantial annual donation to the charity and we’re so pleased to see that Vetlife’s work has now expanded to provide a more comprehensive level of support for veterinary nurses. The actions from Vetlife that will allow VNs to apply for financial aid and become full Vetlife members, are key ways to recognise all the work that VNs do to protect and care for the nation’s animals. We look forward to continuing to collaborate with Vetlife on future projects to ensure that everyone working across the veterinary professions is given the resources they need to look after their wellbeing.”
“A vital and valuable service to the veterinary professions”
Director of Membership at the Veterinary Defence Society (VDS), Jo Stonehewer, comments, “Vetlife provide such a vital and valuable service to the veterinary professions, so it is wonderful to hear that full membership is now being extended to RVNs, who themselves play such a pivotal role in the practice team. We at the VDS congratulate the Vetlife Board of Trustees and the whole Vetlife team for this significant development, particularly at such a fitting time when many are struggling with increases in cost of living.”
Welcoming the new governing document Vetlife President Graham Dick said;” It is symbolic that the original governing documents of 1919 were written at the time of the major global pandemic which followed the First World War. Despite the pressures and constraints of recent years with additional demands placed on the charity, I am pleased that the Board of Trustees of Vetlife has taken time to produce this significant way forward for the charity.”
Specifically addressing the importance of veterinary nurses he added: “I am especially proud that the significant role played by veterinary nurses as part of the professional veterinary team is now recognised. Not only are veterinary nurses essential contributors to the health and wellbeing of animals for which they care, they also provide a wide range of support to fellow members of the veterinary community, either directly or as volunteers or fundraisers for Vetlife. The additional insights and breadth of experience they can bring to the activities of the charity can only benefit its future direction and the veterinary community overall.”
The next Annual General Meeting of Vetlife will take place on Wednesday 7th September, 2022. Nominations of members for election to its Board of Trustees should be received no later than mid-day on Wednesday, 3rd August. Details can be found on the Vetlife website (www.vetlife.org.uk) or by contacting [email protected].
Vetlife Helpline is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year on: 0303 040 2551 or via anonymous email at https://helpline.vetlife.org.uk/