Nancy Zinkin’s first contact with the Communist Party came when she was 20-year old trainee nurse. She and others were trying to organise into a union. About 800 nurses from St Giles Hospital and others formed the Association of Nurses, which later became part of the National Union of Public Employees (which in turn merged to form Unison). The Communist Party brought expertise and resources to the task of organisation and Nancy would meet her life-long partner and husband, Peter Zinkin (see separate entry) through this activity.
At the end of her training, Nancy got the second highest marks in her appraisal but was not offered a job. After occasional odd jobs in hospitals, the war period saw her in charge of a mobile unit which toured bombed areas after raids, dispensing on the spot first aid.
When Peter was sent to Glasgow to work as a Party Industrial Organiser, Nancy became a midwife. Despite her own very poor background, her experiences in the slums of the city shocked her and determined her to find a way to help. Back in London after the war, she became a health visitor and was active in the relevant union, the Health Visitors Association.
In the 1960s, Nancy wrote a pamphlet, produced by her own branch, Ealing HVA, on child health that would later be used as the model for the Health Education Council’s pamphlet, `Your Child Needs You’, that has been widely displayed ever since in health clinics across the country. She was engaged in pioneering schools health and sex education work in Ealing even in infant classes.
ource: Morning Star 26th September 1986
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