Spring is the most exciting time in the Iolanthe calendar – it’s when our trustees finally get to open all the applications that have come in for this year’s awards.
They can’t all be chosen for funding, but every single application represents a midwife or student midwife’s personal vision for improving care for babies and families, so they are inspiring just to read. “I have huge admiration for anyone who sat down and found the words to apply,” says trustee Grace.
So how do our trustees approach making such difficult choices? We asked trustees Logan van Lessen and Grace Thomas to tell us. Grace explains how she begins.
“The first thing I do with any application is simply read it through, without thinking about scoring it, just asking myself, “What’s in this for women, babies and families? Because ultimately, it’s the care delivered by educated and skilled midwives that will make their experience the best it can be. The midwife or student comes into it next. What would this funding do for them? Will it enable them to gain knowledge, skills, experience, or carry out research?”
Logan has a practical initial approach, asking herself, “Does this application qualify for this particular award? Does the project fit the award criteria? Is it achievable in the time frames described, and with the resources planned for?” But like Grace, she says it’s fundamental to consider the potential impact of the proposed plan on families having maternity care.
Trustees then move to the scoring process, structured to be as equitable as possible so applications for the same award are judged by the same criteria. Trustees who happen to know any applicants must take themselves off the list for judging those applications, but after that, all awards are reviewed and scored by the majority of trustees, all of whom must consider the same series of questions.
It’s a time consuming process,” says Grace. “On the one hand, every single application deserves our just regard. On the other hard, we have the very serious responsibility of distributing charity money in the most effective way.”
So what makes an application stand out? Logan explains.
“One where the applicant has thought clearly about their proposal, and both their passion and the evidence for their chosen project comes through. Projects don’t need to be huge – it’s about the impact of how the project will improve care and services for mothers and babies. Realistic timing, and costs relative to benefits clearly explained really help. I also get attracted to projects where there is currently not a lot of evidence, or where there is a gap in the service, and the project proposes some innovative ideas.”
Grace says, “I’m always inspired by the determination and dedication of so many midwives and students who want to improve both services and also their knowledge and care. I think that’s probably why I wanted to become a trustee – there is a tangible passion that comes through in these applications and I love supporting that. People are really wanting to make the best care possible for our families.”
Logan agrees. “What I most enjoy about this role, is being part of fulfilling someone’s dreams, when they win an Iolanthe award. Being able to support a midwife or student to achieve their goals is very rewarding, and it’s a win-win situation for mothers and babies too.”