In November 1855 there was an outbreak of cholera at Scutari, and Miss Nightingale returned. Soldiers, nurses and surgeons were dying. The pressure of administrative work had forced her to virtually give up practical nursing. Her daily walk around the wards was the only recreation she received. She worked at her desk, with a small candle, she had no fire, because the stove smoked.
In London November 1855, a committee of seventy distinguished people took a lease on a first floor chambers at 5 Parliament Street for a year. The Nightingale Fund was beginning, with Sidney Herbert as chairman. Their intention was to launch a national appeal. The resolutions were drawn up:
The noble exertion of Miss Nightingale in the hospital of the East demand the grateful recognition of the British people.
That while it is known that Miss Nightingale would decline any such recognition merely personal to herself it is understood that she will accept it in a form that may enable her, on her return to England, to establish a permanent institution for the training sustenance and protection of nurses and to arrange for their proper instruction and employment in metropolitan hospitals (metropolitan was deleted at a subsequent meeting).
That to accomplish this object on a scale worthy of the nation and honourable to Miss Nightingale herself, a public subscription be opened to which all classes be invited to contribute and application be made for the ‘red’ of the clergy, the mayors of corporate towns and other available sources of assistance.
That the sums thus collected be applied to their objects according to the discretion of Miss Nightingale and under regulations formed by herself, the subscribers having entire confidence in her energy and judgement.
In the following week it was added to resolution 4 that’ and in the meantime Trustees shall be considered protectors of the Fund.
A public meeting was called for the 29th November, at the Willis Rooms in King Street. The Duke of Cambridge had been invited to be Chairman. The Duke of Argyll, Lord Stanley, and Richard Monckton Milnes also made speeches. Sidney Herbert read a letter from a soldier in Scutari. Similar meeting were held throughout the country. It was decided a fund should be set up, for Miss Nightingale to use to establish a training scheme for nurses. The Trustees of the Fund were Sidney Herbert, Rt. Hon Stuart Wortley, Sir William Heathcote, Richard Monckton Milnes, Charles H Milnes and Charles H Bracebridge. The founding of the Fund reached the Army in the East, nearly nine thousand pounds was subscribed by the troops. In December 1855, twenty thousand circulars were sent out, mainly to mayors and clergy. From this the Fund received a provide seven thousand pounds.
Sidney Herbert had sent Miss Nightingale a copy to the Funds first meeting. In January 1856, he received her reply. She had accepted the committees proposals, but she was uncertain if her health would allow her to carry it out. Perhaps at this moment Miss Nightingale’s mind was not fully on the training of nurses. She had seen the Army suffer, is this where her heart lay, to reform the treatment of the British private soldier.
The winter of 1855 had seen a big change for the troops, than the winter before. They had warm dry shelters and were well fed. Recreation was also encourage with entertainment or sporting events.
Many men were now convalescing, and becoming bored. They had nothing to spend their money on except drink, which became a problem. Miss Nightingale felt that if she could find something to occupy the men it might help. With great opposition she opened a small reading room, officials felt that the men would get above themselves reading instead of drinking. Many men used their money for drinking, because they were not happy about sending money through the Paymaster. Miss Nightingale would devote one afternoon a week to receiving money, to be sent home to their families. Miss Nightingale would then send the money to her Uncle Sam, who then purchased postal orders which were then forwarded to the men’s families.
Miss Nightingale also dealt with their personal affairs. They attended lectures, singing classes and amateur theatricals, she gained respect from the soldiers, because of her respect for them. Offices were opened at Constantinople, Scutari and Balaclava for the selling of money orders. Lord Panmure did not think it would work, but in less than six months seventy thousand pounds was sent.
Many of the drink shops closed, any man found drunk was court marshalled ‘for disgracing the regiment to which he belonged’. In September 1855, a Coffee House was opened called the ‘Inkerman Coffee House’. The walls were hung with pictures and maps, arm chairs, tables and newspapers all provided by Miss Nightingale.
By the spring of 1856 there were four schools for the training of Medical Staff Corps.