Hammersmith Reflections

A blog written by our Trustees - Julian Hillman

February can be a sad month, fortitude tested by continuing winter, with summer still a long way off.  Sad for me personally, because I have to stand down as a trustee of Hammersmith Unite Charities (HUC) after 12+ years and also because Oxfam who I have supported for over 50 years is in trouble.

Integrity for charities is vital, as is well considered risk taking and I feel confident in saying that HUC passes both tests.  Some of the grants we make do not succeed, but if we took no risks we would greatly decrease our helping power and initiatives that are now massive successes would never have seen the light of day.

Mark Goldring, the Oxfam GB boss, used to work for National Mencap and I got to know him a bit.  He is a man of great energy and intellect.  He is apologising for what happened in Haiti and elsewhere as he should, but he is also asking whether some of the criticism is motivated by dislike of what Oxfam does. Balanced in the scales, I am sure the good done outweighs the wickedness ten thousand fold.

The charitable impulse is heart warming and strong in Muslim, Christian, other religious traditions and secular movements.  It can be naive and destructive to give, but not to give shrinks the soul and destroys our humanity.  The reinvention of the grant making arm of HUC during my trusteeship is something I am immensely proud of and in which I played a small part.  In the past there have been those in HUC not confident that grant making is correct – “God helps those who help themselves” or “Leg up not hand out”, both reasonable sentiments in context, but allowing for the possibility of not helping those in trouble when we should.

From Hollywood through Rome, Canterbury and on to Haiti, great institutions are mired in stories of sexual exploitation and the obdurate denial thereof.  However, if we closed every institution, in which some members had exploited women and children, what would we have left?  While apologising again and again, Goldring is right to look at critics’ motivation.

From my work with Mencap I know that it is those least able to speak up who are most at risk of abuse.  If Hollywood super stars find it hard, then think about a woman with Down’s syndrome living in a care home being able to support “#Me Too”.

Integrity is hard to prove and one can be misled by silence, smooth talking and power, “Plate sin with gold, And the strong lance of justice breaks” says the not so mad King Lear.  So out of my February sadness, comes a cry for more charity, more vigilance, a positive future for Oxfam, which I will continue to support financially and the hope my successors at HUC will find even better ways of making grants and taking sensible risks to help people in Hammersmith.

Julian Hillman
18th February 2018

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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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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Get ready for Halloween!

Pumpkin carving tips and ideas

Pumpkin carving

 

You will need: Pumpkin, a marker pen/pencil, a sharp knife, a container to collect the insides.

1.       Health and safety! Make sure you have a steady non-slippy surface, a good hold of the pumpkin and always carve away from yourself.

2.       Use the marker pen to draw a line around the crown and mark the pattern you want to carve.

3.       Use the knife to carve, collect the insides in a container to make delicious pumpkin goodies such as soup, pie and hummus.

4.       Place tealights inside your pumpkin, put the top on and add to your Halloween display! This is John Betts House resident Bryan with his final pumpkin.

5.       If you do not want to use knives, there are some fun alternatives. Check this to find some inspiration!

 

We’d love to see your pumpkin creations: take a picture and tag us on social media!
Twitter @HamUnited
FacebookInstagram @hamunitedcharities

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V with roses

Five minutes with…our community gardener

Victoria helps residents enjoy our gardens and keeps them looking beautiful.

V with roses

It’s difficult to sum up what I love about gardening. It’s everything. How different plants grow, the seasonal and weather changes (even rain!), seeing others enjoy the flowers that appear and how it invigorates all your senses.

I have always loved flowers, trees and plants. I previously worked as an NHS speech and language therapist and before that in education. Over time, I found myself increasingly turning to outdoor work. The more I did, the more the enthusiasm grew, until I was certain that gardening was the career path for me.

I have seen the proof that gardens can be restorative. I encourage our residents to enjoy the gardens as much as possible, whether that’s sitting and looking, or participating in tasks. During the tighter lockdown, they were a safe space for people to sit and relax. Residents said they felt lucky to have them.

Talking to the residents is lovely. It’s great to learn what plants people like in the garden, or what they are doing with their container gardens outside their flats. I love listening to tales from their lives – many people have such interesting stories. It’s quite inspiring and sometimes very funny.

It was a really hot spring and summer but we watered mostly by hand. I could not have done it all without the residents helping me. They were completely brilliant. They often help me with plant names that are new to me (there are so many!), and do daily tasks like open and close the greenhouse and check on the barrel pond at weekends. It really helps. Heading into winter, there will be many jobs to do in the gardens. One of the biggest is mulching, which is adding an enriching and insulating layer of composted material to every bed in the garden. We have lovely things on show, like winter flowering shrubs. The residents often stop to chat about what they can see on their way through the gardens.

There is always some colour throughout the year. Jackie, the head community gardener, has used succession planting. So when certain plants fade, others begin to pop up. There are lots of lovely surprises as the weeks go by. You have no idea the gardens are there from the busy London roads outside. You step into a peaceful, natural space you’re not expecting. When I first visited almost a year ago, I felt the ‘wow’ factor, and I still get that now.

 


Find out more about our sheltered housing

With award-winning communal gardens, our friendly and affordable sheltered housing helps residents live independently for as long as possible.

We have flats available now for older people from Hammersmith. Talk to us on 020 8600 0650 / 07733 842 574, email info@hamunitedcharities.com or read more here.

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