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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100 Hammersmith children reach out to local older people in lockdown arts project

Over 100 children in Hammersmith have reached out to local older people through the coronavirus lockdown, in an uplifting intergenerational arts project called Dreaming Forest. Children and older people have been sharing their hopes, dreams and memories by decorating wooden birch leaves and posting them to each other. The leaves will be shared with the wider community in an art installation in October.

“It was a joy to bring together two generations who have had to stay apart for so many months,” said Victoria Hill, chief executive of Hammersmith United Charities (HUC), which provides local sheltered housing and led the project. “We wanted people – old and young – to enjoy the magic of unwrapping a parcel to find a unique message from someone reaching out to them.

“It’s so important to us that our residents feel happy, fulfilled and connected to their community. It’s been very difficult for them during lockdown, as we’ve had to restrict visitors to keep our residents safe,” Victoria said. “This was something small we could do to help. The leaves are made of birch, which symbolises hope and the promise of new beginnings – and we could all do with some of that.”

“Receiving something like this from children, it means a lot. It just lifted me from the lockdown – we have all been feeling low,” said Kitty, who lives at Sycamore House in Hammersmith and hasn’t been able to have a visitor all summer. “That the children at school and teachers were thinking of us: it went a long way. The whole thing is a lovely gesture,” she said.

“Our children loved receiving their leaf packages through the post and taking part in the Dreaming Forest project. Using water colours was a new experience for some of our little ones!” said a Year 1 teacher from Old Oak Primary School.

Dreaming Forest was a collaboration between Hammersmith United Charities, artist and researcher Carolyn Defrin along with Wendell Park and Old Oak Primary school, Solidarity Sports and the LIDO Foundation.

Hammersmith United Charities provides quality sheltered housing for people over 60 and offers grants to community groups. For more information about the Dreaming Forest follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. To find out more about Hammersmith United Charities’ sheltered housing click here.

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community@hammersmith

HUC Film Project

Hammersmith United Charities presents community@hammersmith, a film project to celebrate our grantees’ work and hopefully help bring some fun and light into 2020. Our aim is to build a video picture of the enormous value of local organisations, provide an insight into what community means in Hammersmith and help our grantees build their capacity to use film as a medium to tell their story to the people that matter to them.

If you are a grantee of Hammersmith United Charities, please find more information about the project and how to take part in this document.

If you have questions about the project, please email film@hamunitedcharities.com.

community@hammersmith is also supported by Electric Light Studios and Community Switch Sports.

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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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