Oral History Project

The Ethnic Communities Oral History project ran from 1987 until 1994, and published fascinating insights in to the lives of the diverse communities that make up Hammersmith.

“If English is not your first and most fluent language, how do you share your life experiences with others, not familiar with yours… ‘ordinary people’s’ life histories deserve as wide a readership as possible.”  (Sav Kyriacou, former project coordinator, The Ethnic Communities Oral History Project 1987 – 1994)

In the late 80s/early 90s, the Hammersmith and Fulham Ethnic Communities Oral History Project published a set of 12 memoirs chronicling the collective experiences of the communities that make up our very diverse borough through the specific stories of individual members of them.

After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.”  (Philip Pullman)

Nearly a quarter of a century later, as part of our marking 400 years of bringing this community together, Hammersmith United Charities is republishing these stories. Each will be launched at a special lunch held in a venue which also reflects the community in question.

We can think of no better way of celebrating the depth and richness of the heritage of our Area of Benefit nor of showcasing the range of talents and experiences from which it benefits than through the republication of these stories.

He who is different from me ….enriches me. Our unity is constituted in something higher than ourselves – in Man… For no man seeks to hear his own echo, or to find his reflection in the glass.”  (Antoine de Saint- Exupery)

This is the full list of publications, we hope you enjoy them as much as we have

  1. The Irish in Exile – Stories of Emigration
  2. Passport to Exile – The Polish Way to London
  3. In Exile – Iranian Recollections
  4. The Motherland Calls – African-Caribbean Experiences
  5. The Forgotten Lives – Gypsies and Travellers on the Westway Site
  6. Xeni – Greek-Cypriots in London
  7. Ship of Hope – The Basque Children
  8. Aunt Esther’s Story (with Stephen Bourne)
  9. Somali Sailors
  10. Asian Voices – Life Stories from the Indian Sub-continent
  11. Sailing on Two Boats – Second Generation Perspectives
  12. Such a Long Story! – Chinese Voices in Britain

Hammersmith United Charities Response to Coronavirus (COVID-19)

In line with Government advice, Hammersmith United Charities has invoked our Business Continuity Plan and implemented a new operating model focussed on keeping the residents of our Almshouses, our team, contractors and partners safe and well during the Coronavirus pandemic. (more…)

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The almshouse movement

So much more than affordable housing

With the average house price in Hammersmith at more than 25 times the salary of a nurse, it is no surprise that many workers are reaching retirement without the safety net of their own property. That’s why almshouses like ours, providing older people an affordable home in the community where they belong, are as vital now as when the movement began hundreds of years ago.

By Victoria Hill, Chief Executive – Hammersmith United Charities

 

The coronavirus has seen an outpouring of appreciation for key workers who leave the safety of their home to work keeping their community safe, fed and well. In the frightening early days of the first lockdown, we stood in the street and clapped for healthcare workers, carers, shop assistants, cleaners and more – all the people who put themselves at risk for the sake of others.

The contribution of key workers is rarely highly valued in monetary terms and these are often the very people who struggle to find an affordable home near their families and vital services as they grow older and become more in need of care themselves.

The average house price in Hammersmith is more than 25 times the salary of a nurse, and so it is no surprise that increasing numbers of workers are reaching retirement without their own property to fall back on. And with the average rental cost of a one-bedroom flat at two and a half times the state pension, it is easy to see how so many older people are also priced out of the private rental market.

With one in four older people in our area now living in poverty, the mission of almshouses like ours is as relevant as it was 400 years ago when Hammersmith United Charities was founded.

The almshouse movement has been around for hundreds of years but the Almshouse Association and the Charity Commission have only recently created a formal definition of what it means to be an almshouse. It describes exactly what we do here at Hammersmith United Charities.

Our charity was founded in 1618 with a gift of £100 to provide housing for the relief of the ‘elderly poor’ of Hammersmith. This gift has been added to and grown by generations of trustees and we now have an endowment and 92 flats on two sites just off the Goldhawk Road. These properties are highly protected and cannot be sold or used for any other purpose. Our residents must be over 60, have lived in Hammersmith for at least five years, be of limited means and in need of sheltered accommodation.

In human terms, our status as an almshouse means that the Charity can provide housing to the people who have often contributed most to our community but feel valued least. We believe that no one should be denied the opportunity to live in a decent home simply because they were never given the opportunity to climb the property ladder. The cost of our flats is regulated by statute to ensure that anyone can live here without causing hardship.

For us, almshouse living is about much more than just affordable housing. We know from research by the What Works Centre for Wellbeing that where we live and our relationships also have a significant impact on our wellbeing. For Hammersmith United Charities, what defines us is our ability to provide a home where people feel safe, in the place where they belong, surrounded by a community who values them for life, not just for lockdown.

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More information:

Over 60 and looking for a new home in Hammersmith? We provide beautiful, welcoming sheltered housing with award-winning communal gardens. Flats available now from £870 per month.

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H&F WINTER COVID APPEAL

UNITED in Hammersmith & Fulham has launched the H&F Winter Covid Appeal in partnership with Hammersmith & Fulham Council

As the UK struggles with rising rates of the virus and a second lockdown commences, many still need our help – including those going through mental health crises, suffering from loneliness and isolation, and at-risk children in need of educational support.

UNITED in Hammersmith & Fulham has launched the H&F Winter Covid Appeal in partnership with Hammersmith & Fulham Council to enable local individuals, businesses and foundations across the borough to support those most in need of assistance.

100% of funds raised will be donated to groups working with people who face risk because of coronavirus in Hammersmith & Fulham this winter.

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Nomad Radio: a lifeline for the Somali community

How one of our grants is keeping the station on the airwaves through the coronavirus crisis.

The UK’s only radio station for the Somali community, Nomad Radio broadcasts here in Hammersmith and Fulham. Community-led and bilingual, it’s just received a grant by Hammersmith United Charities to keep it on the airwaves through the coronavirus crisis.

(more…)

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