In 1618, Dr Thomas Edwards made a gift of £20 for the immediate benefit of the poor of Fulham and left £100 to buy land for their longer term benefit. In 2018, we celebrate the 400th anniversary of that gift – from which was to come so much more.

400th Anniversary

In 2018, we celebrate the 400th anniversary of that gift – from which was to come so much more. Two years later – in1620 – Bishop King left another £20 for the poor of Fulham to be bestowed upon them in “bread, beef and money”. The parish overseers of the poor asked Bishop King’s widow if they could add this bequest to the earlier one and established the principle of bringing together generous gifts to the parish which has enabled trustees over four centuries to make more effective use of these gifts, continuing to relieve need in our local area. We explain some of that tradition and the story of how Dr Edwards and Bishop Kings’ Fulham charity subsequently gave rise to Hammersmith United Charities too in the history section of this website.

In this 400th year, Hammersmith United Charities are looking to achieve these things;

  • Firstly, we want to celebrate the diversity of our Area of Benefit and its rich cultural heritage which makes it so distinctive and so vibrant. To do that, we are holding a series of “enigma lunches”. Each one will shine a spotlight on one of the specific communities within our Area. At these lunches we will relaunch a publication first made in the 1980s recounting the memories of migrants to Hammersmith from that area. We will also bring that community together with others to see what spontaneous conversation we might achieve; and we will use the arts to get the conversation going.
  • Our second objective is to celebrate talent and enthusiasm wherever it might lie. Under the banner of the Festival of Joy, we will focus this year as much on the positives in the Area of benefit as on the issues and needs. We are supporting the borough’s first disability arts festival in partnership with Hammersmith and Fulham Arts fest and Turtlekey arts and the Lyric as well as many other local organisations including sponsors Stanhope.
  • We are also commissioning a new piece of dance from DanceWest to be performed by an older peoples’ dance company which will be shared at our main celebratory event on 6 July. We will focus on the joy of our gardens with a special “gardeners’ question time” event and we will bring joy to all local groups with an additional £50k in the grants budget.

And after 400 years, there has to be a big new idea. Watch this space for news of our new local giving scheme – 21st century philanthropy in the spirit of Dr Edwards and Bishop King and intended to make a deep and long an impact as their far sighted gifts did.

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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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