Hammersmith Reflections – Four hundred years of support, and counting!

This month we continued our celebrations of the charity’s 400year anniversary with a Grand Party at St. Paul’s. We also launched UNITED in Hammersmith & Fulham with our sister charity Dr Edwards and Bishop King’s.

The theme of our celebration year is bringing people together, and our guests included representatives of many of the local groups and charities that we fund or partner with, as well as residents of our sheltered accommodation. Some great new connections were made.

Naturally I’ve been reflecting on our long history – what’s changed, what’s stayed the same, what it all means and what the future might hold.

The material and technological progress that has been made since 1618 would astonish our founders. Life expectancy has soared, and for the vast majority of us those lives have a comfort and a richness of experience that even the wealthiest people of the seventeenth century could not imagine. We take it for granted that we have a plentiful supply of drinkable water; that we won’t die of plague, smallpox or cholera; that we can communicate instantly with friends and family in other places; that we can travel quickly and easily not just across London but to other continents.

So when so much has changed, why is a charity that was founded to provide accommodation and food for the poorest people of four centuries ago still relevant today? For me the answer is that something that has not changed (and I hope never will) is the human desire to improve our lives – and to share the best things in life with others. I am sure our founders would have understood our ambition not to provide the bare minimum for our residents but to give them the best quality accommodation that we can. That means that we need a continuous programme of refurbishment and updating of our buildings.

And our founders would have understood why we strive not just to cater for people’s material needs, but to offer opportunities for people to enjoy experiences that bring happiness and fulfilment. That’s why some of our grants fund activities like dance, art classes and sports, both for older residents of Hammersmith and for some of the youngest.

As an accountant, business plans and budgets have played a big part in my professional life. But in the context of a 400 year old organisation how far ahead should we plan? At our celebration event, the oldest guests were in their nineties, the youngest still at primary school. By the time those children reach their nineties (round about the year 2100!) changes will have happened in politics, technology, society and the economy that I can’t begin to guess at. There will be many changes in the charity too, not least in successive generations of trustees and staff. It would be futile to try to plan in detail for that period, but since our ambition is to be there for those children (and their children and grandchildren) when they need us, we must try both to address today’s immediate needs and to leave our successors a strong and confident organisation.

In planning our 400th anniversary year we were determined that, as well as celebrating the Hammersmith community of today, we must create something for the future.  That will partly spring from the connections that we hope we’re making with and between local people. But we also hope that we’ll be able to see 2018 as being a milestone in our history for the launch of UNITED in Hammersmith & Fulham. UNITED’s long–term success will depend on the hard work of many people, some not yet born, but if the past 400 years are any guide to the future then we will have plenty to celebrate at our 500th anniversary in 2118.

Mike Smith
Chair of Trustees
July 2018

Hammersmith Reflections – Why we need art

Guest blog entry by Nora Laraki

 

Most of you know me as the Administrator of Hammersmith United Charities, the first point of contact when walking through our doors in Sycamore Gardens. But since 2017 I have also dedicated my time to do a PhD and dive with this research project deeper into the art world. (more…)

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Hammersmith Reflections – Four hundred years of support, and counting!

This month we continued our celebrations of the charity’s 400 (more…)

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UNITED is hiring!

UNITED in Hammersmith and Fulham is looking for a new Programme Development Manager!

Download the recruitment pack on the right, or visit their website: unitedhf.org/articles/were-hiring/

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Hammersmith Reflections – Thoughts from a New Trustee…

Every one of us has the capability to contribute to society, and to those less well off (financially, socially, physically etc), than ourselves. Having been involved in the running of businesses for a little while I was keen to donate my skills and knowledge. I had been involved with one local Hammersmith charity and having “done my time”, was keen to find another opportunity within the locality. The people and environment in which I live are important to me. Hammersmith has numerous problems and issues – and to contribute to solve a just very few of them gives me a lot of personal satisfaction.

Shepherds Bush Market

Hammersmith United Charities as we all know has been around for a long time (400 years to be precise). But what attracted me was the vision for the future. HUC has listened to the people of the Borough, through its “Big Conversation” and from that set out a real plan. This is a charity that has a long term vision for the future, is run and organised by some very professional people – and one that I wanted to be involved in.

Housing is a massive problem in our Borough. Hammersmith United Charities already provides really lovely sheltered accommodation to over 90 residents – all of whom would be at the mercy of private landlords without our apartments. But to be involved with a project to increase our stock and offer long term housing solutions to even more in the borough is an exciting prospect. Giving something back, no matter how small the contribution, that will last for many decades is a satisfying thought.

Two Residents at Sycamore House

But the charity isn’t just about providing sheltered housing. Over the four centuries of its existence the financial resources of the Charity have grown. This means that in 2018 we will be donating over £400,000 of our income to other local charities and support groups. Making real contributions to real people in borough and helping to improve their lives – whether it be through nutritious meals for homeless people; music for toddlers with language delay; counselling for people who have experienced domestic abuse; or opportunities for entrepreneurs to support older people Hammersmith United Charities makes a real contribution to people’s lives in the Borough – something that I am very proud of. And with the setting up of the combined UNITED charity something we want to do even more with the support of the local community.

W12 Festival 2016

Hammersmith United Charities is an exciting organisation with real plans, to make an even bigger contribution, to our local community. Something that excites me – and something I am proud to be part of.


David Bailey
Trustee
June 2018

 

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