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 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 City Bridge Trust awards £180,000 for the development of UNITED in Hammersmith & Fulham

The City Bridge Trust, the City of London Corporation’s charitable funder, has awarded £180,000 to Hammersmith United Charities for the development of UNITED in Hammersmith & Fulham as a place-based giving in the diverse London borough. The project links those who want to support the community with local causes in-need that will best use their investment.

The grant will be released over five years (£47,000; £43,000; £37,000; £31,000; £22,000) with a focus on core funding.

Dhruv Patel, chairman of the City of London Corporation’s City Bridge Trust Committee, said: “At a time when public finances continue to be under significant strain, place-based giving schemes like UNITED in Hammersmith & Fulham are playing a really important role in tackling disadvantage in London.

“By using their grassroots knowledge of the issues which matter to local people and matching those who want to  help their community with causes in need of support, they’re doing a fantastic job of building stronger communities and helping to make the borough a fairer place in which to live and work.”

Victoria Hill, CEO of Hammersmith United Charities said “We are grateful for the support of the City Bridge Trust to further our mission to revive the spirit of local philanthropy in partnership with Dr Edwards and Bishop King’s Fulham through the creation of UNITED in Hammersmith & Fulham.

“It will help continue the work that has already reached tens of thousands of people in need and bring people together to make Hammersmith and Fulham a borough where everyone thrives.”

Kevin McGrath DL OBE, Chair of UNITED in Hammersmith & Fulham, said “This grant from the City Bridge Trust means we can further important work to make our London borough a fairer place in which to work and live.

“We call for local individuals, businesses and institutions to partner with us through our activities, to ensure that local causes which are most in-need, such as homelessness, isolation, health inequality and racial disparity, are recognised and responded to in the most effective way possible.”

The City Bridge Trust, which was founded in 1995, gives £25m a year to charities fighting inequality and disadvantage in London.

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Black Lives Matter

We stand in solidarity with those making their voices heard in the fight against systemic racism.

Hammersmith United Charities stands in solidarity with those making their voices heard in the fight against systemic racism.

As a community charity in one of the most diverse areas of the UK, valuing equality and diversity is central to the way we work and we are committed to the fight against racism and prejudice.

We have a duty to the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic people living in our Almshouses or working alongside us in our staff team, board and community partners to speak up. We want to let them know that we stand with them and against injustice and intolerance.

We believe that to be silent is to be complicit and so Hammersmith United Charities says with one voice that Black Lives Matter.

 


June 5th 2020: Tonight at 10pm Hammersmith & Fulham Council will be lighting Hammersmith Town Hall purple as H&F takes the knee and says with one voice that Black Lives Matter. Full statement from H&F Leader Stephen Cowan:

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Grants Awarded April 2020

Hammersmith United Charities Coronavirus Crisis Funding

We are proud of our grantees’ heroic response to the coronavirus crisis. Our community has acted swiftly to find radical new ways to support local vulnerable people whilst observing social distance rules; ramped up capacity to cope with a massive surge in demand; and, showed courage and commitment in the face of frightening and uncertain circumstances.

In April 2020 the Trustees were pleased to award the following grants in response to the coronavirus crisis.

The next award of grants is due in September 2020, further details will be published closer to the time. Please keep an eye on the grants section of our website.

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H&F CAN and UNITED Community fund

UNITED in Hammersmith & Fulham has launched a Coronavirus (Covid-19) Community Fund for local non profit organisations. Find all the information and the link to the online application form: (more…)

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