Gloria Randall obituary

Other lives: Social worker in London who had fled Nazi Germany in 1939

My mother, Gloria Randall, who has died aged 91, was a social worker who was attuned to the particular needs of Jewish refugee clients, having fled Nazi persecution aged eight. As a pioneer in the social work field of the new NHS, she was also a team leader in complex family care cases.

Born in Hamburg, Gloria was the daughter of Sascha (nee Rares), an actress, and Fritz Mangold, a solicitor. The family’s assimilated status was no protection from the Nazis and Gloria had to wear a yellow star before being excluded from school.

Thanks to the sponsorship of a relative in London, the family made it to Britain just before the outbreak of the second world war. Gloria grew up in Leatherhead, Surrey, and attended Sutton high school.

She took a certificate in social science at Edinburgh University (1951), followed by an Institute of Medical Social Work professional qualification (1954). As an assistant medical social worker she had posts at a number of hospitals around London, starting with the Prince of Wales hospital, Tottenham. These services had been provided by charities before the NHS was founded and one outraged client demanded to know what happened to his “lady almoner”.

Gloria worked her way up the medical social work grades in the 1950s and 60s, with a break in 1963, when she lived in Israel for a couple of years, taking up archaeology, living on a kibbutz and working as a medical social worker at Bet Loewenstein rehabilitation hospital.

In 1965, back in the UK, she became a senior medical social worker at University College hospital, London, attached to obstetrics, and then went to work as a social worker for Enfield council. She also lectured and supervised students studying at University College hospital, the Institute for Medical Social Workers and the North Western Polytechnic (now London Metropolitan University). From 1977 to the late 80s she worked at Haringey social services.

Gloria’s career culminated in the 90s in assessing accommodation for increasingly frail former refugees with the charity Jewish Care. She was particularly moved when one concentration camp survivor said she always carried her passport in her handbag because “you never know”. She retired in the mid-90s.

Though she never described herself as a survivor, her formative years directed her formidable energies towards those who were displaced. She was an active member of the Association of Jewish Refugees and curated her family’s wartime letters for the Weiner Holocaust library.

Devoted to her family, Gloria also maintained a wide circle of friends. She loved the opera, and her theatre group shared her passion for new productions and good meals.

She married David Randall, a mathematician and civil servant, in 1969. He died in 2011. Gloria is survived by me, a granddaughter, Miriam, her brother, Tom, and three nieces.

Lucian Randall

The GuardianTramp

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