LAST year I went for a job interview, an unpaid voluntary job, as there were vacancies on the Healthwatch St Helens Management Committee.

Well, the NHS was founded just a few months after I was born and I believe in its basic aims and objectives. Healthwatch is a part of the new structure and gives us a very strong voice to either praise or complain, and help change things for the better, which is both good and positive.

As far as our borough is concerned, we have a pretty interesting track record on this topic over the decades, as chronicled in the history books by Pauline Hurst on St Helens Hospital and Whiston Hospital.

People have fond memories of the Providence Hospital and that complex that was almost in Rainhill.

Of course there must be more within the townships we absorbed in 1974. Any more I should know about?

The Cottage Hospital was opened in 1873 and the first Providence Free Hospital opened in George Street in 1882. In 1888 Emily Garton bequeathed £40,000 to the St Helens Infirmary – £6,000 of which went to the Providence Hospital.

The Providence was founded by Mother Magdalen Taylor and her community of religious sisters calling themselves ‘The Poor Servants of the Mother of God’. She had served as a nurse in the Crimea, working with Florence Nightingale. She was invited to the town to open a hospital, and the building is still there, the end house on the alley leading to The Raven.

Being too small, they were given Hardshaw Hall by the Walmsey-Cotham family. In 1887 Lord Stanley laid the foundation stone of the first extension to the hall as it became the Providence Free Hospital. Sadly it closed in the 1980s.

Health is a very important aspect of our local history, Beechams Pills, for instance. I have some video footage of the emergency services in a wartime training film exercise in the bombed out building in Charles Street, taking a casualty to the nearby Providence Hospital.

Healthwatch represents the views of local people using health and social care services. If they are complimentary they are passed on to prove they can outnumber complaints. If there are niggles, we try to have them eliminated. Although nothing is ever 100 per cent perfect, it should be our aim for OUR health and wellbeing.

Two of the priority areas are end of life care and mental health and we also have worked on dementia. I find the demand for me going out showing old photographs has increased from dementia groups, not that an interest in old local pictures and old St Helens is a symptom of abnormality.

I first got involved in health and wellbeing issues when I was invited to join the Social Inclusion (Mental Health) and Disability Network, (being in a wheelchair and can input local history and local arts activities).

It’s encouraging that groups and organisations are forming to voice the concerns of people suffering from particular afflictions or pressures, or cocktails of several problems.

There is a crowded spectrum of factors causing stress, including now having your benefits slashed.

But we do need evidence, such as your detailed comments. Keep them to yourselves and nothing will ever change. Write to Healthwatch St. Helens at FREEPOST RSLX-XCTJ-RZHL, 24 Church Street, WA10 1BD, or FREEPHONE 0300 111 0007, or Twitter @HWStHelens Alternatively visit the Healthwatch St Helens website, or drop off something at reception. It’s opposite McDonalds on Church Street. To Contact Chris at email or ring 01744 817130 or write to 37 Holbrook Close, St Helens, WA9 3XH.