In the staff magazine ("News Letter") of Autumn 1958, an appreciation of the career of Rosalie Maude Brown was published. The appreciation was written by Eleanor Morrison who recalled the re-appointment of Miss Brown as the Bank's Welfare Officer. That appointment followed the decision of the Bank Committee that the Staff Welfare Fund Committee should be replaced by a Staff Welfare Sub-Committee of the Bank Committee to deal with matters affecting the welfare and working conditions of the staff (excluding questions of remuneration) on the lines indicated in the General Manager's Report.
That Report (dated July 1945) stated that:
In January 1929 a Staff Welfare Fund was inaugurated to meet expenses in connection with Corporation Sports Grounds and social activities, provide prizes for juniors, etc. The Fund has been built up by contributions of 2d per week from each member and an equivalent contribution from Bank funds, and is now in credit to the extent of £288. 17. 11d. Management of the Fund is vested in a Committee consisting of three members of the Bank Committee and three staff members. Some objects mentioned have ceased to apply. Corporation Sports Grounds for games were not supported to any appreciable extent, and gradually the staff failed to make use of the Grounds. Prizes to juniors ceased many years ago, being supplanted by a more generous scheme of grants from Bank funds on passing examinations. In 1934 the objects were extended to bring in activities of the Staff Club, formed in connection with use of the new Assembly Hall at Head Office, and to meet other purposes.
The Staff Welfare Fund Committee is not a welfare organisation as generally understood. The function of the Committee is mainly that of approving grants to members on retirement, etc and scarcely warrants the time of members of the Bank Committee attending the meetings.
It would be better to replace the present Committee by a Staff Welfare Sub-Committee of the Bank Committee, which would deal with matters affecting the welfare and working conditions of the staff (excluding questions of remuneration), to whom the Welfare Officer (Miss R M Brown) could present reports, and upon which the Sub-Committee would give directions. Minutes could be kept in the usual way by the Clerk to the Bank Committee, who would summon any necessary meetings.
If this meets with approval, contributions for purely social activities would become a staff matter entirely, whilst expenditure on welfare matters would be met from Bank funds.
A decision should be reached regarding the balance now standing in the account.
In due course, the existing funds were transferred into accounts of the BMB Staff Social and Recreational Fund.
Rosalie Brown acted as a Branch Manager during the Second World War, but had held the post of Welfare Officer prior to the War. Resuming her position as Welfare Officer after the War, with effect from April 1st 1946 she was promoted from Grade 4 to Ex-Grade, with her salary being increased from £324 to £370, with a further increase to £400 at April 1st 1947.
The Staff Welfare Sub-Committee met on a quarterly basis at which Miss Brown produced a report for subsequent presentation to the Bank Committee, examples of which are reproduced below. The reports reflect the general situation after the Second World War with a shortage of materials, some of which are rationed by the use of coupons. Reference was also made to the harsh winter of 1946/47 that was noted for its adverse effects; it caused severe hardships in economic terms and living conditions in a country still recovering from the War - there were massive disruptions of energy supply for homes, offices and factories
April 15th 1946
Your Sub-Committee held their quarterly meeting on Monday, the 8th instant. The Welfare Officer reported that she had paid visits to 40 of the Branches, at the majority of which the cleanliness and general appearance of the premises were satisfactory. She had examined the domestic equipment and cooking facilities at each Branch and had informed the General Manager where any items were required.
With regard to the meals it was found that at about 20 Branches the staffs were able to obtain a hot meal from a British Restaurant or other sources.
2. Alum Rock Branch.
Certain necessary repairs have been effected to these premises to eliminate draught which was causing inconvenience at one end of the building.
3. 3-Hut Branches.
Complaints having been made about the damp and lack of heating in the messrooms at these Branches, the messroom at the Tower Hill Branch has been relined with a special wood which absorbs the moisture. This has proved satisfactory and arrangements have been made for the other huts to be treated in the same way. With the elimination of moisture from the messrooms, it is expected that the twin ring gas burners provided will prove adequate for heating purposes.
4. Head Office Canteen.
The Welfare Officer reports that the new cook gives satisfaction and there is a great improvement in the cooking and quality of the meals.
5. Overalls for Female Staff.
The Board of Trade have been approached with a view to coupons being obtained for overalls for the female staff, but without success. Some of the staff have, however, used their own coupons to purchase overalls.
6. Medical Supplies for Branches.
The Chairman and the Welfare Officer have been authorised to inspect supplies at the Branches with a view to replenishment where necessary.
7. Social Activities.
The Welfare Officer has been requested to investigate and submit her observations on this matter in due course.
July 15th 1946
1. Report of the Welfare Officer.
The attached report of the Welfare Officer has been received and approved.
2. Social Activities.
During the discussion on this matter, mention was made of pre-war activities in regard to sports, games, etc. The Sub-Committee were reminded that the Playing Fields at Queens Road, Yardley, were for the use of all Corporation Departments, and the hope was expressed that it would be possible to arrange for the pre-war activities to be resumed.
3. Staff Committee - Suggested Co-option of Staff Welfare Officer.
Your Sub-Committee are concerned that there is no connecting link at present between the Welfare Officer and the Committee acting on behalf of the staff, and the General Manager has been requested to invite the Staff Committee to co-opt on their number Miss Brown (the Staff Welfare Officer), a course which is considered very desirable in order more effectually to promote the general welfare of the Bank Staff.
4. Amenities at Branches.
It was suggested that some comfortable chairs should be provided at Branches more particularly for the use of the female staff between spells of duty. The Welfare Officer has been requested to approach suitable firms as to a supply of such chairs, reporting thereon, if possible to the meeting of your Committee.
Report to Welfare Committee.
I have paid visits to all Branches of the Bank. Where I was not satisfied with the general appearance of the premises I have paid a second visit and found improvement.
A general complaint from members of the Staff is the shortage of towels. There is a small stock of these at Head Office for the use of the staffs at the Branches, and the General Manager has given permission for these to be handed out at my discretion. A point was raised as to whether the Bank would be prepared to pay for a towel if a member gave up the necessary coupon. The General Manager thought this a reasonable request and agreed.
Before the War, the Bank had a contract with the Phonotos Co., of 205 Corporation Street, for cleaning and disinfecting the telephones at Head Office. The General Manager thinks it advisable that the work should again be undertaken and the contract has been renewed.
The re-lining of the woodwork in the mess room at the three hut branches has now been completed and there should be no complaints regarding damp.
The overall position remains the same, and members purchasing one and giving up the necessary coupons receive an allowance up to 15/- towards the cost.
A circular has been sent to the Managers asking them to purchase Dettol, Sal-Volatile, and one or two small bandages for use in case of accidents.
Regarding social activities, these are normally arranged by the Staff Committee. I understand that enquiries were made regarding an outing but nothing has been arranged because of the food situation. A dance has been arranged during September to take place at the Botanical Gardens.
A presentation will shortly be made to Mr Hilton on behalf of the Staff, and it is hoped to arrange a Tea at Head Office on that occasion.
R M Brown
8th July 1946
After the Bank Committee had considered the above reports, the Chairman of the Sub-Committee (Alderman Mrs Hyde) reported on the question of supplying chairs and it was agreed that the Sub-Committee be requested to further consider the matter, giving regard to the possibility of obtaining suitable tubular furniture.
At the Bank Committee meeting held on October 21st 1946, the General Manager reported as to the enquiries made regarding tubular furniture, and he was then directed to enquire from the Officer in Charge of the Central Purchasing Department as to the possibility of acquiring suitable furniture. Further consideration of the matter was deferred until the return of Alderman Mrs Hyde from abroad.
Subsequently, the General Manager reported on November 18th, that it would be possible to secure 43 chairs from the Estates Department suitable for use at branches at a cost of about £80.
January 20th 1947
1. Report of the Welfare Officer.
The attached report of the Welfare Officer has been received and approved.
2. Chairs for Branches.
In addition to the 43 Chairs secured for the Branches as mentioned in the Report, your Sub-Committee are endeavouring to obtain the required additional 14 chairs, including some suitable for the smaller Branches.
Report to Bank Welfare Sub-Committee .
Since our last meeting I have visited all branches of the Bank and am pleased to report that I have found a general improvement in the cleaning and appearance of the premises.
I have been endeavouring to arrange that all the staffs are able to have a hot meal at midday, and with the consent of the General Manager the staffs of the larger branches are allowed to visit a restaurant if one is situated close to the branch. The Manager fixes the most convenient times for their absence from the Bank and there are never less than three members always on duty. The staffs take advantage of this concession, which is very greatly appreciated. At some of the smaller branches the staffs are not able to get a meal from outside and I have been able to occasionally help them with a supply of tinned goods from our Head Office stocks.
The following socials have taken place since September last.
A Tea Party was held at Head Office on the occasion of a presentation by the staff to Mr Hilton.
A Dance was held at the Botanical Gardens.
A Whist Drive was held at Head Office at which the staff were very pleased to welcome the Chairman Alderman Harrison Barrow and the following members of the Bank Committee, Councillors Achurch, Simpson and Thomas.
All these functions were very successful and enjoyable, and requests have been received for further activities to be arranged.
Following the request of the Welfare Sub-Committee to the Staff Committee, I have been co-opted a member of the Socials Committee and helped with the Socials held at Head Office.
CHAIRS FOR BRANCHES.
At our last meeting I was instructed to make enquiries at various firms regarding rest chairs for branches. The most suitable chair was a small fireside chair which was being sold only to docket holders. Representations to the Board of Trade for a permit to purchase these was unsuccessful.
The Estates Department were disposing of equipment of the Emergency Wartime Service and I met by appointment Mr Skillicorn of that Department for the inspection of chairs. I made a selection and 43 have now been delivered to Head Office. These are being overhauled and renovated where necessary by the Bank Engineer and his assistant and the whole of the cushions have been cleaned by the Midland Scientific Cleaners. These chairs are being delivered to the branches as soon as possible. The Messrooms at Acocks Green, Aston Cross, Hay Mills and Harborne are too small for these chairs. This also applies to the three hut branches and the Maypole Branch. We require an additional fourteen chairs to complete the branches.
(Sgd.) R M Brown
13th January, 1947.