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…)
Hammersmith United Charities trustee, Adam Matan, is a Somali-British human rights advocate, social activist and consultant.
Adam founded the Anti-Tribalism Movement in 2010, a non profit organisation tackling tribalism and inequalities within communities, and in 2020 went on to lead the Independent Policing and Crime Commission for Hammersmith and Fulham to examine the root causes of crime and anti-social behaviour in the borough.
What’s involved in your role as a trustee?
I have been a trustee for Hammersmith United Charities for four years. I really enjoy contributing to setting the direction and strategic priorities for the charity, and being involved in day-to-day activity like awarding grants. It’s rewarding to see our resources used for recreational and educational purposes for the community. I like visiting beneficiaries, to really see what impact small grants make to people’s lives.
As a trustee, I help to make sure the board is reflective of the communities we support in the north of the borough. I have a good understanding of what works well in the community sector, and which programmes and people we should be engaging with. I enjoy advocating for issues I’m passionate about, like disabilities, BAME organisations, and arts and cultural activities.
What’s shaped your work and values?
I came to the UK from Somalia when I was 13, following the Somali Civil War. In Somalia, children are often treated a little like adults, so I was very responsible when I came here – a bit more mature than a usual 13 old boy! We came here to improve our livelihood, and to help others, both at home and in the communities here. Those values were instilled in me at a young age by my family, so as soon as I finished university, I wanted to help other young people to achieve their potential. I went on to start the Anti-Tribalism Movement in 2010 – the aim was to fight tribe-based discrimination and promote peace and tolerance. Since then it has grown into an international force with 140,000+ members, which feels like one of my greatest achievements.
What changes do you want to see change in your community?
Covid-19 has exposed deep-rooted, decades-ignored social inequalities in our community. It’s unfortunate that it has taken such a world event to bring it to the surface. There is no way we will be able to ignore it now – so many people will be even poorer by the end of lockdown.
There is a family I’m working with on Lime Grove in Shepherd’s Bush. There are seven children, and mother and father living together in a two-bed flat. Imagine that under lockdown rules? Some of the children have underlying health issues. Both of the parents are key workers, so they can’t stay away from work – the family will literally starve to death if they do. But they always know they might be bringing the virus back, with no space for anyone to self-isolate.
Many fear that it’s just lip service when decision/policy-makers say that there will be change due to the lessons learned from Covid-19 There is a level of discontent and unsettledness amongst many BAME communities and their leaders. I don’t think it will be long until we see social unrest if there is no real response to some of these issues.
It’s something we’re beginning to work on at Hammersmith United Charities, with a programme called Let’s Talk About Race. We want to find out how we can engage with communities in a more meaningful way, to truly understand what our grantees and their service users think we should do to counter deep-rooted social inequalities. It has got to be led by the people.
What’s special about Hammersmith & Fulham?
I’m biased, but Hammersmith & Fulham is the greatest borough! It’s a city within a city. We have everything you can admire: three football clubs; the biggest shopping mall in Europe; beautiful, historical parks; the river; a flourishing business hub in Hammersmith; the ‘Silicon Valley’ of London at White City; and Uxbridge Road, one of the most diverse streets in London, running through the heart of the borough.
And through the pandemic we have seen how generous and supportive these communities have been to each other: the number of spaces opened for homeless people, food distribution, individuals been supporting each other, and businesses giving free food and other supports.
When there is a disaster, when there are members of the community who need support, the residents of this borough really pull together.
Our cleaner Oksana has worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic to keep the staff and residents of Hammersmith United Charities safe.
When it all started, it was a bit scary being a cleaner. Everyone was staying at home, but I was going in to work. Putting on the gloves and the mask, wearing them all day, every day. It was hard at first, but now it’s just normal. I want to go in to work every day – it’s a nice place to be. I’m very happy to have a job, and to see different people.
I clean everything I see. All the time, it’s door handles, doors, tables. Everything. We try to be very safe all the time.
Residents like to speak with me whenever they can, because other people aren’t allowed to visit, and they can’t really go anywhere. I’m one of the people they see most regularly, along with the scheme managers who check in on them every day.
At times like this, you can feel exhausted. So you have to try to think about something good. I try to be nice to people – it gives you more energy. I enjoy spending time with the residents. They are very, very good people, and they always say thank you to me for the job I do.
I haven’t been able to go home to Ukraine for two years. I really miss my family. I speak to them three times a week, but it’s not the same. People there are a little bit scared too. I really want to go this year, but I don’t know. How things have changed.
When I had my vaccination, I was a bit scared. At first I thought, I don’t want it. Then I was thinking, I should get it, because I’m working with old people, and travelling in to work on the tube. And it was fine – very quick and easy. Plus it’s better for all of us, because it will help us all get back towards normal life.
As our community takes tentative steps towards recovery, we find out how Hammersmith and Fulham Council’s Covid-19 emergency response has relied on partnership working and the creativity of the third sector.
“I can remember when we saw the first deaths in a residential home. That was a particularly low moment. It was traumatic for everyone – a terrible tragedy,” says Linda Jackson, director of Covid-19 Response and Recovery for Hammersmith & Fulham Council. “Now everyone has been touched by this crisis, one way or another. It’s been really difficult, seeing the devastating impact on families and businesses.”
The crisis over the past year has brought together everyone living and working in the community like never before, Linda says. “There has been an extraordinary partnership response between the council, fire, police, NHS, businesses, community organisations, residents – with camaraderie at every level.”
Early days of the pandemic
After recordingthe very first case on 22 January 2020, the council could see what was coming on the horizon and knew it needed to act quickly, Linda says. By the beginning of March, a structure was put in place to get some control and respond quickly. The team has always tried to be intelligence-led in its response, she says, and closely monitored how the pandemic was progressing in Hammersmith, London, the UK and the world.
It became clear in March 2020 that hospitals were discharging residents into care homes without first testing them for Covid-19. With an absence of national guidance or support, the council team forged ahead, linking up closely with health partners to close the homes to new admissions and test everyone to bring the virus under control. And in November, Hammersmith & Fulham became the first borough in London to launch lateral flow testing initially at residential care homes and then at three fixed centres making tests much more widely available. The council has also been facilitating the NHS-run vaccination programme, helping to set up centres and supporting GPs with systems and process.
For organisations providing sheltered housing with high numbers of older people, the speedy roll-out of these programmes has been game-changing. “With both testing and vaccinations, I always felt that the council was doing its best to bring any single benefit to the community as quickly as it could,” says Victoria Hill, chief executive of Hammersmith United Charities, which provides almshouse accommodation for older people on lower incomes.
“When we started being able to test our staff on site in December, it was a really big deal. It became a huge part of our infection control process,” says Victoria. “Before that, we were constantly worried that we could be infectious without knowing it and bring the virus on site.”
“All of our over-80s were vaccinated before Christmas, followed by staff in January. Now nearly everyone is vaccinated. It is such an incredible relief. Every single health and social care worker in the world has been weighing this up, every day, for a year: am I going to bring coronavirus into work? Am I going to take it back home with me?”
Working with the third sector
The council and the NHS are pushing out vaccines and testing to every corner of the borough with the help of the voluntary sector, Linda acknowledges. These organisations have a unique ability to wrap quickly around the thousands of people in the borough whose lives have been turned upside down by coronavirus.
“There is a quite breath-taking amount of skills and abilities in the local third sector,” says Linda. “These organisations move silently within communities and activate community capacity a lot quicker and better than a council officer could.”
Over the past year, the council and grassroots organisations have worked together to provide support where it’s been needed most. Early on the Volunteer Community Aid Network (CAN), along with street-level mutual aid groups, galvanised hundreds of people to volunteer their time to help vulnerable people. There has also been a 150% growth in donations to the food bank in the borough to support the surge in families who now can’t afford to put food on the table. “Some of the people using food banks were looking forward to a holiday a few years ago. Now they have no income and no money,” says Linda.
In partnership with fundraising organisation United in Hammersmith & Fulham, the council set up the Covid Appeal in March 2020, and local businesses and residents have now donated over £144,000 to fund organisations supporting people affected by the pandemic.
Community organisations are powerful because they have an intimate, inside-out understanding of the borough, says Victoria. “Hammersmith United Charities also provides grants to local organisations, and when I look at the organisations we’ve funded throughout this crisis, I see a strong movement of charities run by people who live here. They know the people most in need personally and over the crisis have worked together at speed to provide whatever is needed – whether it’s food, laptops, phone data, toilet paper, or a cheering phone call.”
“Throughout the pandemic, community organisations have stepped up very quickly, without thought to their previous agenda or outside pressures like funder’s targets. They just changed what they usually did to meet the immediate need, because their first priority was getting their community through this crisis. I hope funders now have a better understanding that it’s crucial to trust community organisations and give them the flexibility to respond to needs as they see them changing.”
So what does recovery in Hammersmith and Fulham look like? “I can see the green shoots of spring,” says Linda. “We’ve launched our ‘Shop Local, Shop Safe’ campaign to help businesses open safely as lockdown is eased. And we’ve got to build on the connections we’ve made with the third sector. After 12 months of working really hard together, how do we keep the capacity we’ve gained? We want to develop the recovery plan in co-production with the third sector, so that it’s an integral part of what the council offers, rather than working around the outside.”
The pandemic has shifted health and social care priorities. “Before, the focus was on specific diseases, like diabetes and cancer. Now? It’s on basic needs like food, employment, housing,” says Linda. “Some say it’s a backwards step. I say it’s an opportunity to rewrite the future. But we absolutely need the community sector to write it with us.”
Find out more
- Find out more about coronavirus, latest guidelines, testing and vaccinations in Hammersmith and Fulham on the council’s website
- Read more about Hammersmith United Charities’s grants programme and other community projects
- Find out about our sheltered housingin Hammersmith with beautiful award-winning gardens.
One of our Sycamore House residents, Kitty, reflects on what truly makes a home, and how she’s finding her way through lockdown.
“I was born in Limerick, Ireland, but my husband and I came to London in the 1950s to try and get a start in this country.
We didn’t have a great way about things to begin with – we lived in a few different places, but it was hard to save for somewhere decent. We started off the two of us in a little bedsit in Chiswick; when we had two children, one of our first family homes was the matter of one bedroom and a kitchen in a shared house. Another place had a bath in the kitchen, which doubled as something to sit on at meals. They were tough times, but you have to make the best of everything, don’t you?
I often think back to 1972, when we were offered a council property: a flat in Trellick Tower on Golborne Road. It was brand new – with 14 cupboards in the kitchen! But it was the height that got me. We were on the 21st floor. People told me that there was a picture postcard view out of the windows, but I just could not look down. I should have gone with my instinct. We were four years in that flat, and I hated every minute. It became known as the ‘Tower of Terror’. A lot of bad things happened there. I just kept my head down with children, but we felt really cooped up.
One winter someone flooded the lifts with thousands of gallons of water from the fire hydrant. We were all without power, heat or electricity between Christmas and new year. Everyone was going up and down stairs in the dark, falling, getting ill. And the postman couldn’t come up to deliver.
Once there was a fire on the 15th floor, right below us. We were told to stay in our flats, but of course there was no ladder that would have reached us in the top levels. My husband was working that evening, and I had the four children by then, with my son a couple of months old. We were just watching the blaze. I went to the neighbour so we could be together. I was so frightened. No one died in the end, but the 15th floor was completely gutted.
After that I went to social services to see if we could move somewhere safer. We got offered a beautiful house on St Elmo Road. There was a big garden, a double garage – and four bedrooms! I couldn’t believe it. It was the happiest time of my life; it was a lucky house.
37 years, I lived there. But my husband died in 2010, and my children were making their own way in life. I stayed two more years in the house, but I didn’t feel safe rattling around on my own. It broke my heart to leave it – I had put everything into my home. But I knew that people with a young family would benefit from it. I think they’ve kept some of it the same – my little lamp is still outside the front door.
Moving to Sycamore House
At that time I was thinking along the lines of sheltered housing as I was coming to that age where I knew I’d benefit from a little care. I looked around such a lot of places, but nothing would do. I was giving up so much, so I had to feel really sure.
In 2012 I came here to Sycamore House. That feeling when you come in – you felt it was going to be a place you could feel proud to live in. I liked the care that came along with your flat, that someone came to check on you in the morning, and a cleaner tended to the place. Everyone was very kindly and the gardens were lovely. My daughter described the communal lounge as something you’d see on a cruise ship!
I do like the social side of things you get here, in normal times – the trips out together. We used to have live music and celebrate birthdays. It can be overwhelming to begin with when you move into sheltered housing, with so many people to get to know. I try and have nice conversations and learn what makes people tick – eventually I find my way.
Life in the pandemic
Lockdown in the summer wasn’t too bad – at least we could go into the garden and see people when the weather was fine. Bless them, they even purchased an outdoor heater for us. It was a walk in the park compared to the lockdown this winter. But staff have done well by us – they are doing their very best. The scheme managers are always there, and always have a happy word to say to us.
It has been a trial, not seeing family. The only time was when I had my 80th birthday and my daughter had her 60th. They came with some balloons and sandwiches and we celebrated on the pavement.
There has been hardship for everybody. A down-side of living so closely with other people is that you have to get your head around losing them when they pass on. I lost the man who lived next door to me, and I lost another friend very recently. We would ring each other, and we were there for each other. It put me down a bit. I really take it to heart when a person goes, I’m afraid. I can’t see how I will get used to it.
But I go downstairs, look around me, and it does me good. Prayer does help me immensely. If you have a religion, it doesn’t matter which, it’s something to turn to. I try to be there for people, and stop and listen – that’s the important thing, listening.
What I’m looking forward to most of all is meeting one or two friends for a pub lunch. I’ve been on my own cooking, cooking, cooking – all the time. What I wouldn’t give to have a meal and then just push the plate away. And go to the shop, go to Marks, have a look around.
But I’ve had both of my vaccinations now, so things are starting to change. I think spring is bringing a new hope for us.”
Find out more
To help community organisations bring their extraordinary work to life, Hammersmith United Charities has launched a project called community@hammersmith. Story-telling and film-making experts have been sharing their knowledge with local charities, giving them the skills to create a dynamic film that demonstrates their impact.
“Community organisations form the backbone of social change in Hammersmith,” said Hammersmith United Charities Chief Executive Victoria Hill. “They work in the most deprived areas, are run by local people and are particularly good at reaching people who are isolated or disadvantaged who may not be able to seek help from the state or a larger charity. But the work they do is sometimes difficult to explain, perhaps because it is complex or involves a subject matter that people find hard to talk about.
“The aim of community@hammersmith is to help some of the local charities we support to tell their story to the people that matter to them – potential beneficiaries, volunteers, funders or staff – by making a short film about their work.”
Eleven local organisations expressed their interest to be considered for this project by answering “What difference does your organisation make in the community?” with a 90-second video, showing the essential services they offer. From this pool of inspiring submissions, five were selected to join the film-making workshop: Anti-Tribalism Movement, Crosslight Advice, Hammersmith & Fulham Law Centre, Shepherd’s Bush Families Project, West London Death Café.
Artist Carolyn Defrin and Dan Massie from creative studio els.tv guided these organisations through the process of creating a professional film. They covered everything from the basics of visual storytelling to bringing storyboards to life with simple filming equipment.
“How we tell stories visually doesn’t always have to be literal,” said Carolyn Defrin. “I love close-ups and colour and alternative angles. Seeing a bird’s eye view of cakes being made or a close-up of a child’s green-painted hand – these images and perspectives invite us in emotionally, personally and memorably.”
The five groups faced this creative challenge with enthusiasm and resourcefulness, and Hammersmith United Charities is delighted to present the first short film born from this project from West London Death Café, where people gather together for cake and tea and to discuss death to help make the most of life. “Making the film during total lockdown was challenging”, said Emily Engel from West London Death Café, “but interviewing people on Zoom and hearing their various reasons for appreciating the Death Cafes was fantastic.”
“We hope that everyone in Hammersmith will enjoy these films and feel the same pride we do in the good work being done in their community,” said Victoria.
Find out more
A poem by resident Kitty
My little Valentine, my funny Valentine
You make me smile
You bring with you glorious spring time
When the air is fresh and new
Buds are peeping through the earth
As if to say, hello
Spring is such a special time
The birds are singing so sweetly
The evenings are getting a little longer
So let’s look to the future
With hope in our hearts
Will be an episode in our past
Have a smile and a cheer
Each and every one of us
Now that Valentine’s day is here
Like the little Robin
Appearing on my balcony
As if to say, all will be well
Spring is in the air
And hope is in our hearts
Now that Valentine’s day is here
Happy Valentine’s day to you all
Find out more about our sheltered housing
Equipping people with learning disabilities with the confidence to make friends and build relationships
Hammersmith dating project Happily has been busier than ever throughout the pandemic. But it’s meeting a need that’s been pressing for years, says founder Helena Reed. Hammersmith United Charities has funded 10 memberships to support the project.
“My daughter has always felt ‘different to everyone else’, says Alison,* mother of Lucy,* who has a learning disability. “She went through months of non-stop crying – she was so down. It was very sad to see.” Lucy desperately wanted to meet new people and build relationships, but she didn’t have the confidence or skills – and didn’t know where to get help.
According to Helena Reed, founder of Happily, a Hammersmith-based dating and friendship project for people with learning disabilities and autism, new members often talk about this sense of helpless isolation. “Members often feel stuck between two worlds. They don’t want to be stuck in a box labelled ‘learning disabilities’. They just want to feel cool and have fun with their friends.”
Helena knows this first-hand. Her younger sister has learning disabilities, and growing up Helena tried to help her arrange dates and acted as a chaperone. “But it was really hard to find the right environment for my sister to meet people,” says Helena. “The mainstream dating apps just didn’t feel safe or appropriate, and there wasn’t anything tailored to people with a learning disability.”
It’s a common problem: over the age of 25, people with learning disabilities stop getting support from their local authority’s special educational needs system. Many finish college and find they are too old to access free services they had relied on for social interaction. The sudden loss of this network can be devastating.
With 1 in 3 young people with a learning disability spending less than 1 hour outside their home on a typical Saturday, research suggests that people with a learning disability are also seven times as likely as their non-disabled peers to be lonely.
“Although there are some amazing charities in each borough supporting adults with learning disabilities,” says Helena, “it can be a small world. If you don’t fancy someone in your local group, you are quite stuck.”
Bringing Happily to life
Seeing a pressing need for something to connect vulnerable young adults – and with her little sister in mind – Helena took the plunge and launched Happily three years ago. The project creates a safe place for making new friends and starting relationships. The focus is on dating, but Happily believes that helping friendships along is just as important. The service operates across nine boroughs in west London, and free annual memberships have been funded for ten people by Hammersmith United Charities.
So how does it work? First of all, the Happily team get to know members, their family and support staff. They find out about the member’s hopes and interests, relationship history and support needs. Practicalities are considered in a social way, like understanding whether members can travel independently, manage money and read menus. Goals are set to revisit later on: “New members often feel nervous; many haven’t had relationships before,” says Helena, “so it’s all about working on confidence.”
After being matched with another like-minded member, they might go to a park or café with a chaperone – although during the pandemic these meetings are usually online. Afterwards, the process is managed by Happily, so no one shares phone numbers until they’ve both decided they want to meet again. “It’s a supported situation where people can have a good time,” says Helena. “It takes the pressure off. Our aim is to remove risk and make sure everyone is safe.”
“If a relationship does develop, we still keep in touch,” says Helena. “Adults with learning disabilities often need support to nurture relationships, and things can change. We help at each stage – with the struggles and the break ups. We’re there for all of it. And if relationships progress to being physical, we make sure they’ve got the right information at the right time,” she says.
For some people, sex education in school can feel like a distant memory. Happily explores this with members in an appropriate way, working with parents and support staff to enable healthy relationships. Collaborating with experts like SASH and Respond, they provide 1:1 support and workshops about sex and relationship, boundaries, consent and sexual health.
Connecting over lockdown
Covid-19 has changed the way Happily provides its services, but the need for human connection is greater than ever. It can be even more difficult for people with learning disabilities to know how to keep in touch when they can’t meet up in person.
“We’re checking in now more than ever,” says Helena. “In the first lockdown, we got in touch with a couple who had been together for a year. They just didn’t know what to do or how to connect. So we got them up and running on Zoom and helped them have a birthday celebration online, which got the ball rolling for them.”
“It’s difficult to reach people and get new members at the moment,” says Helena, “but we know how much need there is. When we do manage to connect with new people, they are desperate for contact. Some haven’t seen another person for months. So we try to link them up with online group socials as quickly as we can. It’s good for people to see some smiley, happy faces on the screen – so suddenly they aren’t sitting at home alone. There are people out there who can give support.”
Life beyond Happily
Happily has been life changing for Lucy. As Helena says: “Before she joined us, Lucy hadn’t really met new people and was very nervous. Through her new experiences her friendship group has grown so much. Now she’s had two relationships, and she’s been to the seaside with her friends. Her mum says that she’s is a different person, and that she’s so much more confident.”
It’s not always an easy journey, says Helena. “It’s a rollercoster. You want to be there for members as much as possible, so you can get very emotional. If there is a break-up, I feel involved. But sometimes I cry with happiness. It’s such a nice feeling, when someone becomes more confident. I get very touched by the responses of family members.”
“I try to take things day by day. But sometimes it’s overwhelming to think about what we’re trying to achieve with Happily. I just threw myself into the project without really considering the scale of what was involved. I was just thinking about my sister being lonely. But she isn’t now.”
Happily – free memberships available now
Happily has free memberships for people over 18 with a learning disability available, and is as active as ever over the pandemic. If you know of anyone the scheme may help, please share.
Happily is particularly keen to reach women with learning disabilities or autism, to keep the gender ratios equal. The team are also searching for LGBT+ members.
Find out more
*Names have been changed.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Pumpkin carving tips and ideas
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!
Victoria helps residents enjoy our gardens and keeps them looking beautiful.
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.
Meet Bill, one of our sheltered housing residents.
He’s had a singalong in an air-raid shelter, played a giant gorilla on the big screen and been around the world eight times. Now one of our residents Bill is happily settled in a quiet Hammersmith haven with everything he needs (plus a few new grandchildren to keep him busy).
I used to live in a bedsit just around the corner from here in Rylett Avenue. I’d walk past John Betts House every day and think, “That looks like a nice place to live.” I never dreamed I’d live here myself.
I happened to meet a lady who lived at John Betts in my art class, and she told me there were units available. And that was it. I can’t believe I’m living in such a comfortable place in my old age. This is the centre of London, but it’s so peaceful. You can hardly hear a sound.
Where I began
I can remember when London went through the Blitz. I was living in Scotland at the time. We never saw a single plane, but if an air-raid siren went off in London, a siren would go off in Brechin as well. If the Londoners were hurrying into their shelters, then off we’d go too – quick march. We’d have a good singalong, and even lessons if a teacher was in the shelter. And you’d be in trouble if you were caught without your gas mask. It’s a bit like today. Now, I think: if we all pull together like we did back then, we’ll win this war too.
I got my first taste of cinema in those days. Every Saturday afternoon we went, and it was always packed solid. Two pennies to get in. I loved ‘cowboys and indians’ sorts of films like the Lone Ranger. Since then, acting has been my life. I’ve been in about 100 films. I started at 15, and one of my first roles was playing one of Fagin’s boys in Oliver Twist. Eventually I made a bit of a name for myself as an arch-villain, I think because I was tall, had black wavy hair and a deep voice. I played Dracula and Frankenstein’s monster on stage. It was fun; everyone likes to be scared, from a safe distance.
My most famous role was Konga, a 1961 sci-fi horror film directed by Herman Cohen. It was about a giant gorilla which ran riot and I had to wear an ape suit for six hours a day, 10 days straight. I did most of the scenes on my own against a blue screen, chasing people, bending over houses, causing mayhem. Jess Conrad was one of the stars of the film. He was terribly good-looking and all the girls were mad about him. I had to kill him, which didn’t make me very popular.
Film-makers find it pretty hard to get 80-year-old actors, so I was still doing about a day a month on films up until last year. The last one I did was Stan and Ollie. But I’ll be 90 soon and I’ve had enough now. I’m quite happy just watching.
There were a few breaks from acting: I was called up for national service and sent to Egypt around the time of Suez Canal troubles. I worked in the Forces broadcasting service. I quite enjoyed it, but all that sunshine and sand! It was like being on a beach for a year. There wasn’t much to do.
I was also an entertainment officer on P&O cruise liners and I travelled around the world eight times. I organised cabarets and dances – and yes, of course I got involved too! I saw Rio, Sydney, New York… But do you know the place that I found most exciting to sail into? Southampton. Coming back home.
A peaceful haven
I never imagined that I’d finish up in such a lovely place. John Betts House has got everything you could want. When I wake up in the morning, the sun comes streaming in through the big windows. There are huge gardens right outside, and you can smell the flowers in my room.
I always say that when you get past 60, you develop a personality – everyone here is really interesting. People are friendly and happy to chat if you want, but they also mind their own business. There are always things to do, if you want to: social activities, coffee mornings, quizzes. I’ve been on trips to Bath and Winchester, and up the canal on a boat. I’ve also taken up painting in the last 10 years and that has kept my artistic juices flowing.
Things are a bit different at the moment. But this feels like one of the safest places in London. We are in an enclosed community, so there is no need to go out if you don’t want to. Occasionally I get up very early and go for short walk, when nobody’s around.
I’ve got three children but up until a few years ago there were no grandchildren. Now I’ve got two, with another one on the way. It’s like waiting for the number 7 bus. But it’s absolutely thrilling – I’ve got everything to live for.
Find out more about our sheltered housing
We provide beautiful and affordable sheltered housing in our almshouses, with award-winning communal gardens.
Amir Sadjady is a local entrepreneur, housing expert and a trustee for Hammersmith United Charities.
I grew up in neighbouring North Kensington and now live and work in Hammersmith and know the area well. I had visited a resident of one of the almshouses before and was very impressed with the beautiful gardens – you would never know they were there from the outside – and so when I saw the ad for new trustees I was really keen to get involved.
I love helping to improve people’s lives through my role at Hammersmith United Charities. As a trustee I have responsibility for the future direction and vision of the organisation. I attend regular board meetings, ask questions when needed and contribute with opinions when direction or decisions are required.
I bring a particular specialism in business, housing and property to the team – I own and run a new launderette in White City called Wash Launderette 2.0, which I designed and built myself. Most of my customers are residents in Hammersmith United Charities’ area of benefit – since joining HUC I’m much more familiar with the struggles they face. I also have several properties that I own and manage as a landlord, with many private tenants. I’m constantly improving my properties, filling voids and doing refurbishments.
This experience has been really helpful in my role as trustee; I sit on the housing and property committee and it’s been really rewarding to oversee the refurbishment programme, keep track of empty flats and help deal with any issues the residents may have.
I have found out two things since joining the board. The first is how much help the charity gives to the wider community through the grants programme, I had no idea how many people the Charity supports outside of the almshouses and it feels great to be involved in that. The second is how much I like working with Labour councillors, as a former Conservative and then Liberal Democrat activist this was a surprise! The Council nominates four trustees, three from the Labour party and one from the Conservatives so I’ve had to work closely with ‘the other side’ and I can honestly say I’ve really enjoyed it.
Find out more
Find out about the crucial community projects supporting vulnerable people impacted by coronavirus.
£100,000 has now been donated to crucial community projects supporting vulnerable people impacted by coronavirus.
The Community Coronavirus Response Appeal was launched in March to support local people who are at a higher risk of complications from coronavirus, feel particularly isolated or live in poverty. The appeal is being led by UNITED in Hammersmith & Fulham, a charity we created in partnership with Dr Edwards and Bishop King’s Fulham charity to raise funds for local projects and strengthen our community.
The micro-grants, raised by the combined generosity of people, businesses and foundations in Hammersmith & Fulham, are already making a real difference. Activity boxes are being delivered to children living in poverty; more telephone befriending services are being offered to people feeling isolated; shopping, prescriptions and nutritious meals are reaching more vulnerable, elderly and homeless people; extra support is on hand for families and children with special educational needs; there are more first responders for people at risk of suicide and with other mental health problems – and much more.
“A huge thank you to our local community for donating money to our appeal, which will go a long way to helping vulnerable people get through this crisis,” said Savraj Kaur, director of UNITED. “But everything is still very uncertain in this ongoing pandemic and we still need to raise funds to help the people in our community who are most at risk. Please support your community and make a donation.”
CEO Blog October 2020
One in three people living in the community served by Hammersmith United Charities is Black, Asian or from another ethnic minority community. Despite this, Hammersmith United Charities has never had a conversation about race and our role in tackling racism.
We started thinking more explicitly about racism earlier this year when the Black Lives Matter movement made headlines. We ought not to need to be reminded that racism exists in the UK. Studies repeatedly show that there are persistent and systemic racial inequalities leading to people from ethnic minorities being more likely to experience poorer outcomes in health and education, being disproportionately represented in the youth criminal justice system and prison, or being more likely to suffer from an “ethnic penalty” in earnings.
Coronavirus made these inequalities more visible locally. Feedback from our grantees highlighted how people from black or other ethnic minority communities were far more likely to be seriously affected because they disproportionately occupy key worker or other manual roles; are more likely to live in crowded accommodation without easy access to outdoor space; more frequently suffer existing health inequalities and are less likely to have a financial buffer to help them ride out the financial consequences of the pandemic. Hammersmith United Charities trustee, Adam Matan, CEO of the Anti Tribalism Movement, published a report in April spelling out how the Somali community was more adversely impacted by the pandemic. As the situation goes on these inequalities will continue to be exacerbated.
Over the summer we asked local children to share their hopes and dreams as part of a lockdown arts project. One young person answered simply “Justice for Black Lives”, another wrote “Equality for All”. It is dismaying to think that children growing up in the 21st century in one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world, in our own area of benefit, are already living with the knowledge that for them equality is a dream not a reality. This was the last prompt we needed to make this a priority for the Charity to address.
It is notoriously difficult to talk about race and racism and so we called on local experts NOVA New Opportunities to facilitate a discussion between staff and trustees at this month’s board meeting to start the conversation.
They encouraged us to bring down any fear factor by talking frankly about times in our lives when we might have experienced, witnessed or even exhibited racism, how we responded at the time and how we might respond differently now or in the future. We explored our individual positions further by considering our response to phrases which are very visible in the national conversation about race such as “white privilege” and “All Lives Matter”. It was an uncomfortable session at times, but an important first step to get over any initial discomfort and have an open conversation about racism.
Of course, it’s not enough just to have a discussion, we have a duty to take a stand against racism too. NOVA provide a toolkit to help organisations like us think through the steps we can and should take and we will be using this to shape our next discussion in October the outcome of which we will also publish.
The pandemic has made it difficult to meet the young people who shared their dreams of equality and justice with us but I very much hope that when at last I do, I will be able to demonstrate to them what Hammersmith United Charities is doing to help make their dreams come true.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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:
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.
In light of the recent developments around Coronavirus disease (COVID-19), we are now limiting access to our premises to all external visitors.
Please avoid coming in person to our offices – the majority of our staff is now working from home.
To get in touch, please email:
Please note we’re still welcoming application forms for housing (via email or post), but the admission process might get delayed in the weeks to come.
General enquiries: email@example.com
After the Mosaic Project, our residents are back to work! This time they’re painting a series of panels to form a Mural for a wall at John Betts House – and of course they are helped again by local school children. We can’t wait to see the final result in a few months!
And May 2020 deadline
Find below our new grantees for January 2020.
The Grants Committee will meet again in May – to be considered for a grant, please send your application no later than Wednesday 29th April 2020.
Click here for more information and to download the application form.
Sheltered Housing for older people
Open Day on 20th February, 11am – 4pm at John Betts House
Visit John Betts House, Rylett Road, W12 9NJ to learn more about our sheltered housing scheme for 60+ living in Hammersmith, and to meet our team and residents.
The Charity’s two vibrant sheltered housing schemes for older people, John Betts House and Sycamore House are centrally located with good transport links and local amenities.
We provide quality, independent sheltered housing in safe and secure settings, surrounded by beautiful communal gardens, that allow residents to come and go as they please.
Our schemes have:
a communal lounge
supported by Scheme Managers.
Everyone is welcome to attend the Open Day – Please RSVP to our Administrators at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can arrange catering, or book a free ticket here.
UNITED in Hammersmith & Fulham’s Warmer Together campaign is now live. It calls for local older people who can afford to do so, to donate all or some of their Winter Fuel Allowance to help their less well-off older neighbours this winter.
Winter can be an especially difficult time of year for older people in our borough; of the 19,000 residents aged over 65, over half have a long-term health problem or disability. 25% live in poverty. 43% live alone.
Last year, 278 isolated older people in need were supported, through grants to local charities including Fulham Good Neighbours, the Iraqi Association, Lunch Club for the Blind, and the Somali Development Network.
“Most of the services catering to our community focus on young people, and the elderly are usually forgotten. It’s a great change.” – Resident with no family (83) who attended a social club launch.
Can you give a gift?
Are you someone who received a Winter Fuel Allowance that you don’t feel you need? A local business looking for a Christmas incentive to give locally? Or a younger person who also wants to take part in giving?
Visit unitedhf.org/warmertogether for details on how to give.
“This campaign is a wonderful way to bring people together to support our neighbours. One hundred percent of funds raised will go to local community projects that help older residents.” – Cllr Sue Fennimore, Deputy Leader of H&F Council.
Many thanks to LBHF Council for their partnership in this initiative.
We provide quality sheltered accommodation in safe and secure settings, surrounded by prize winning tranquil communal gardens that allow residents to remain independent for as long as possible, within a friendly and supportive community.
John Betts House, Rylett Road: there are 39 Flats.
Sycamore House, Sycamore Gardens: there are 52 flats of which 2 are 2 bed flats.
To be eligible for sheltered housing, you will need to:
- be 60 years old or over, and in need of sheltered accommodation
- have lived in the Area of Benefit (northern wards of Hammersmith) for 5 years either immediately prior to the application or during the course of your adult life (proof of residency is required)
- be on a low income: a single person with assets of less than £25,000 or a couple with assets less than £45,000. If you have assets that could be worth more than £25,000, please contact us as you may still be eligible
Please contact 020 8741 4326 if you, or someone you know, fit the criteria.
Have a look at some of our flats below – for more pictures, please click here.
Encouraging creativity and participation in the arts is an important part of our work at Hammersmith United Charities. Cultural events help to improve wellbeing, remove barriers to social inclusion and contribute to safer and stronger communities.
In June 2019, we held “Artists in Residence”, an exhibition of work by local artists, including residents of our sheltered housing at John Betts House and Sycamore House. The exhibition was part of HF ArtsFest, an annual platform to celebrate the exceptional artists living in the borough, and we were proud to showcase the breadth of talent within the residents of our Almshouses and enable members of our local community to display their work.
The exhibition was kindly opened by Andy Slaughter MP at a fun evening at Pekoe Mellow Tea House jam packed with our friends and neighbours.
We are very grateful to the artists who allowed us to exhibit their work: Bill Forbes Hamilton, Bryan Payne and Pat Carey-Willis from John Betts House; Betty Dwyer and Joan Hurrell from Sycamore House; Carey Whitley, Dickon Reed and Jamik Wilkins from the Grove Neighbourhood Folk Art Group and local artist Layne Wyatt Thank you also to Zena Zialor for photographing the opening night, our colleague Nora Laraki for curating the artworks and everyone who attended the exhibition.
Many of the artists have enjoyed attending the Grove Neighbourhood Fold Art Group run by Rachel Leach, a project supported by Hammersmith United Charities. Everybody is welcome regardless of their experience so if you think you could be Hammersmith’s next Picasso please take a look!
For more photos, click here.
I am an independent award winning photojournalist, local resident, founder of the Photojournalism Hub. My passion and drive is to expose social justice issues through photo stories for these to be of leverage and/or of a conduit for action and change. Some of the projects I have been working on, have been exposing the plight of miners in illegal coal mines in China, the hidden homelessness in the UK with a particular focus on women and their children, police violence against refugees and asylum seekers in Europe. Through my career, I developed many collaborations with NGO’s and charities, including international campaigns with Amnesty International and Protection Approaches, Shelter in the UK. These have shaped the Photojournalism Hub’ aims. The value of connecting photojournalism to effective change and to promote photojournalism work is very important to me. Photojournalism exposes issues, raises awareness and importantly can bring about changes and recommendations in legislations, public opinion and indeed calls for action. The Photojournalism Hub is born out of these aspirations: it presents photo stories needed to be told and it has a programme that focuses on working together with communities and charities to find solutions, advocacy and exposure. Since its launch last November, the Photojournalism Hub has received an amazing support, interest and engagement from the wide public and local communities in our Talk Events, Photojournalism Nights, Open Forums and Workshops and from local organisations such as Imperial College, Hammersmith United Charities, White City Place, Petit Miracles, Stanhope, Elephant West, HFArts Fest, Re:Centre, Lido Foundation and London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham.
THE OPEN FORUMS – WORKING TOGETHER FOR SOLUTION MAKING
The Open Forums are open conversations with different communities. The idea is born from wanting to change the way we engage on social justice issues. Often, we assume that ‘we’ know what is happening to a community, instead of getting to know what is really happening. Conversations are just the first steps; a valuable way to share knowledge and in future deliver what is really needed. From the Open Forums, Photojournalism Hub creates a shareable resource content and further develops a photography based programme that addresses the issues being raised. Sometimes ideas, however beautiful, can just remain as such unless tried and tested. That the Open Forums are being well received is very important to me and I am grateful to Hammersmith United Charities for supporting them and trusting in their value in our communities.
PHOTOJOURNALISM NIGHTS, TALK EVENTS AND EXHIBITIONS
I am sharing below some keystone moments in photographs. The opening was marked by a meaningful talk by Andy Slaughter on the power of photojournalism. Since the launch, the Photojournalism Hub has presented talks on picturing community engagement with participatory photography and collaborative practices, on photojournalism today, and on domestic violence and masculinities. We have organised and presented the first Photojournalism Nights at the Elephant west gallery and we have been invited to be a partner of this year’s HF-Arts festival in which we presented a curated photography exhibition Marginal at Re:centre gallery. We deliver photography workshops at low costs and we are about to begin free photography workshops for Somali young people in collaboration with Lido Foundation and Petit Miracles.
It has been a milestone to present some of today’s courageous, committed photojournalism work in White City. Photojournalism deserves ample space as a form that engages, exposes and initiates actions for change. If you wish to get to know more about the Photojournalism Hub work, I would like to encourage you to sign up to our newsletter on www.photojournalismhub.org or follow us on social media: @PJ_Hub; #photojournalism_hub; Fb: Photojournalismhub
We are delighted to announce our new grantees for May 2019. We give grants to local organisations supporting local people and this year we have increased the total value of grants available to £400,000 to mark 400 years of supporting the people of Hammersmith. The next deadline for grant applications is 2 October 2019. If you’ve got a great idea then we’d love to hear from you at email@example.com
It’s become a tradition at Hammersmith United Charities that retiring trustees are invited to share their reflections on their time at the charity at their final board meeting. (more…)
Our newsletter jointly produced by residents and staff
The Hammer #2 is here – Hammersmith United Charities’ newsletter, looking at all aspects of the charity and jointly produced by residents and staff. In this edition we have included arts, gardens, books and…. click here to find out more!
If you have any feedback or want to suggest something to add to the next newsletter, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Hammersmith Reflections – Young achievers recognised at Hammersmith and Fulham Youth Achievement Awards
Hammersmith and Fulham first ever Youth Achievement awards was organised by Hammersmith and Fulham Young (more…)
We won Silver and Bronze!
We’re delighted to announce that Sycamore House and John Betts House have won respectively a Silver and Bronze – Regional Awards category – in the EAC National Housing for Older People Awards 2019!
Thank you all for voting!
Next year we’ll aim for the gold!
All the results for London here: https://eacawards.org.uk/results-2018/london
our brand new newsletter!
As part of our 400th celebrations last summer, we asked everyone who participated in the “big party” to write a wish for the charity’s future. A very clear message which came out of those wishes was for the members of the charity – residents, staff and trustees – to work more holistically together.
This newsletter – looking at all aspects of the charity and jointly produced by residents and staff – is our first initiative to put that aspiration into practice.
You can read it here – let us know what you think!
In November I was proud to be appointed as the new CEO of Hammersmith United Charities. (more…)
We are delighted to announce that one of our Trustees and member of our Grants Committee, Adam Matan, has been awarded an OBE in the New Year’s honours list for services to the Somali community.
Adam is Managing Director of the Anti Tribalism Movement a non profit organisation tackling tribalism and inequalities within communities. The organisation is working towards a cohesive and dynamic society where every person’s rights are protected regardless of tribe, clan, gender or political belief. He is also Chair of Hammersmith and Fulham’s new resident-led Policing and Crime Commission which will examine the root causes of crime and anti-social behaviour in the neighbourhood.
Guest blog by Geoff Hands, business mentor
“Solutions for an Ageing Society” is part of Hammersmith United Charities’ programme of Social Enterprise Grants. Under the direction of Melanie Nock, HUC’s Head of Community and Partnership, it provides funds to launch new business ideas created by budding local entrepreneurs to enhance the quality of life of older residents in the Borough.
As well as offering grants, Hammersmith United Charities also provides a Business Mentor to help each entrepreneur work up a business plan and to support the successful launch of each new business. Coming from a background of law and business, I have had the good fortune to be that Mentor since the programme started in the summer of 2017.
The entrepreneurs are inspiring people, sharing a common characteristic – a fervent and infectious passion for their cause. All except one of them have been women; some young, most of them of a mature age, all of them coming from a variety of ethnicities reflecting the great diversity of cultures to be found in the Borough.
Their business ideas have been just as diverse, but they have mostly shared the common themes of combatting loneliness and enhancing community cohesion. One entrprenuer’s aspiration was to be an Energy Specialist for the Indoor Environment, bringing her career skills in energy efficiency and sustainability to enhancing the indoor environment of residential homes and day centres for older people. Another woman has been working closely with her daughter to establish an elderly persons’ care-at-home business embodying the cultural mores of her community particularly the love of older people and respect for their wisdom and experience.
Cooking and creative arts are well known antidotes to loneliness and insecurity. One very talented young grantee’s solution for an ageing society was “to lift people out of loneliness using food to create a community that meets regularly to talk about health, diet and cooking”. It was her belief “that inspiring people to cook for friends and family is a way to regain self-confidence and that giving the lunch participants new recipes and ideas to try at home will hopefully be an incentive for them to host more social gatherings on their own”.
A Solutions for an Ageing Society grant has been supporting another extremely gifted award winner in successfully testing her business idea in the local community – in sheltered housing, churches and community halls. Her scheme is to run “hands-on professional fun and creative Art &Crafts workshops with a focus on Textile Art and Felt Making for the elderly, in a safe and supporting environment” expressly with a view to “to fighting isolation, improving health and well- being and making friends by stimulating the senses and challenging minds to learn new hands-on skills”. She and I are currently working together on ways to take her idea to a new level and to grow it into a fully-fledged sustainable social enterprise.
These grants also extend to seed-corn funding an award winner intent on breaking down the taboos that prevent men from certain cultures talking about – and doing something about – the incidence of prostate cancer.
A Social Enterprise Grant from the charity is supporting a new organisation whose mission is the relief of domestic violence in the Borough particularly against immigrant women not able to speak English in isolation imposed by their violent partners. It teaches these victims that domestic violence is not an accepted norm in society, finds them a sanctuary and embraces them in a community of women with shared experiences but now assertive and independent in their own chosen milieu.
And a final “hurrah” for the one man in the scheme – a Life Coach seeking to establish a sustainable business providing a programme of Personal Development Workshops for elderly people. He hopes to introduce a pioneering ingredient – “cross generational mentoring” to integrate different generations working together and supporting each other in motivational life skills.
It is a privilege to work with these compassionate and dedicated people. One of the entrepreneurs wrote recently: “I must tell you that the time I spent with you and Melanie really did restore my self-confidence which had been knocked after almost a year of unemployment. I will be forever grateful for the confidence and belief HUC gave to me during that dark time.” An unexpected accolade for Hammersmith United Charities from an unexpected, unintended but nonetheless very welcome beneficiary.
Apply for a grant by 7th January!
The next deadline to send your grant application will be the 7th January.
Find our application form and entry requirements here.
Contact Melanie Nock if you would like to talk to us about your idea or your application.
We look forward to receiving your application!
Guest blog entry by Nora Laraki
Most of you know me as the Event and Project Coordinator 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…)
This month we continued our celebrations of the charity’s 400 (more…)
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.
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.
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.
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.
Bolder not Older is a dance company for West Londoners aged 55+ founded by DanceWest. The company meets weekly and works towards high-profile performances. Under the direction of
Sonia Illescas, the company celebrates the artistic integrity of older dancers and challenges preconceptions of what it means to be older.
93-year-old Robert Cohan will work with the company over an intensive weekender from 9-10 June contributing towards a piece that the group have been preparing for the opening of Hammersmith United Charities 400th celebrations on Friday 6th July at St Paul’s Church Hammersmith.
Robert Cohan’s collaboration with DanceWest will continue in October when he will inaugurate the first of DanceWest’s Inspired By series – a weekend of talks, interviews, conversations and performances
by Robert and those who have been inspired by him.
Dates: 6-7 October 2018.
Robert Cohan’s influence on the development of modern dance in Britain has been considerable. Having pioneered the teaching of contemporary dance technique in Britain, he was instrumental in the development of a vast following, not only for the repertory of LCDT in the ‘70s and ‘80s but through his pioneering residencies throughout the country, which laid the groundwork for the many other British companies that have grown up in the last 20 years.
You can download and read Robert Cohan biography on the right.
We were up against the Royal wedding, the FA cup final (featuring Chelsea), battery powered technology and Ikea flat pack garden furniture…it didn’t feel promising! But the sun shone, we viewed “the dress” on our mobile phones and we were enchanted by the hospitality of the organisers of Polish Heritage day in Ravenscourt Park.
This Enigma lunch took place in a tent on a drop in basis. The revelation was how to make people laugh – genuinely surprised, proper laughs – directly ask them to sit at a (slightly wobbly, bilious orange) table, eat bread and cheese and talk to someone they don’t know. For those who dared, this was everything we wanted from an Enigma event; people sharing their stories, their languages and their experiences.
We focused the lunch around the republication of “Passport to Exile”, memories of Polish migrants in the 1980s. And around an artist in residence who shared his art with us during the day. Technology failure denied us a Polish musician but instead we enjoyed – for the first time in this series of events – the conversation and enthusiasm of some delightful children.
Serenaded by footstompingly enjoyable traditional Irish musicians, we enjoyed the hospitality of the new Irish Cultural Centre for our third Enigma lunch.
The hall was full for the occasion with guests drawn from the Cultural Centre, our residents, friends of the charity and neighbours who found out about the event from Next Door.
As hoped, the conversation flowed, sparked to some extent by responses to our republication of the reminiscences of Irish migrants first published in the 1980s. Guests were delighted to read the stories; some remembered the original project and, for others, the stories newly discovered, very much tuned in to their own memories.
We ended the event with a riveting and entertaining story by a professional story teller who had the whole hall enthralled and entertained with her tale of her life as the daughter of a small town shopkeeper – and more seriously with her thoughts about “community” – very much the theme of our Enigma lunches.
Hammersmith United Charities is thrilled to announce the charity has won two awards at the London Gardens Society Competition for each of its two sheltered housing schemes for older people. Sycamore House won third place for the large community gardens at the awards ceremony. (more…)
I was sitting in the sunshine on a bench in Ravenscourt Park having a coffee when I noticed people waving from another bench on the far side of the Tea House. It was Diane, who lives locally near Hammersmith Grove, and a couple of other people.
Diane comes over. We haven’t seen each other for a while. She’s pleased to see me and shrieks in delight. I am delighted to bump in to her too. Diane smiles. You should see that smile; (more…)
The next grants deadline will be the 1st October!
The next deadline to send your grant application will be the 1st October.
Find our application form and entry requirements here.
Contact Melanie Nock if you would like to talk to us about your idea or your application.
We look forward to receiving your application!
This time a guest blog by Sian Alexander (Lyric Hammersmith)
Welcome back to our blog “Hammersmith Reflections” where our Trustees share with us their thoughts about Hammersmith United Charities and our local area. This time we have a special guest writing for us: Sian Alexander, Chief Executive of the Lyric Hammersmith. Keep on reading to find out more about the Lyric (more…)
Last Saturday we had our second Enigma Event in partnership with “Women Make Change” who put together a great event for International Women’s Day. Women Make Change is a charity that promotes and protects the health and safety of women and girls affected by domestic violence.
Melanie Nock took the chance to introduce Aunt Esther’s Story. Esther Bruce’s autobiography written by Stephen Bourne tells the story of a black London Seamstress from 1912–1994 and provides a first-hand account of the life of a black Londoner in the pre-Empire Windrush years. When Esther Bruce was born in Fulham in 1912 only small black communities exited in Britain.
Another big announcement was the launch of the “Agents for Change” Women’s Leadership Programme that we founded in partnership with the H&F Council, the Imperial College and the Lyric Hammersmith.
Applycations are open now, find more information here: http://www.agentsforchange.wixsite.com/agentsforchange
Where: White City Community Centre
When: Saturday, 10.03.2018 starting at 3.30 (more…)
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 (more…)
12th - 16th Feb
It’s Friyay! Before we all sign off to enjoy the weekend, have a look at what happened at HUC this week 🙂
On Monday, Lise from Alien Seas hosted a free lunch for elderly people supported by HUC
It was so lovely to host my second charity lunch for the elderly this afternoon👵🏻👵🏻👵🏻 I’ve started this initiative to…
Tuesday was Pancake Day and staff and residents made sure to celebrate it properly
#pancakeday2018 at #SycamoreHouse – what is your favorite #Pancake topping? We like sugar, lemon and peaches!#TuesdayThoughts #hammersmith #london #charitytuesday #shelteredhousing #PancakeDay pic.twitter.com/SZWmr5Y4ex
— Hammersmith United C (@HamUnited) February 13, 2018
But that wasn’t the only thing to celebrate because our sweet Tilly turned 8 years old on the same day – look how cute she is!!
One more thing to celebrate on #PancakeDay is Tilly's 8th Birthday – Happy Birthday, Tilly – you haven't aged a day!#Hammersmith #London #charitytuesday #doglovers #dogsoftwitter pic.twitter.com/kxhdT6m2jb
— Hammersmith United C (@HamUnited) February 13, 2018
Yesterday we had a great Staff Meeting (managing to get everyone in the same room on the same day is not easy!) where we also introduced our new intern Sarah that will be helping us during the next few months.
Last, but not least, UNITED in Hammersmith and Fulham just joined the social media fun! Go show them some love and follow them on Twitter! 😀
Hello from UNITED in Hammersmith and Fulham. We are excited to enter the social media world and introduce you to UNITED, a new local giving initiative in Hammersmith and Fulham. Watch this space! @TWBHughes @HamUnited @FulhamCharity @fulhamsociety @HammersmithSoc @HammersmithBID
— UNITED in Hammersmith and Fulham (@UNITEDinHF) February 15, 2018
Now we want to know all about YOUR week! Follow us on Facebook and let us know what you were up to this week 🙂
A Poem by Kitty
Every Monday, from January to March 2018, our residents at John Betts House and Sycamore House are enjoying a Relaxation and Mindfulness course organised by Open Age.
This course of simple relaxation techniques helps slowing heart rate, improving sleep quality, digestion, mood and concentration as well as reducing stress and much more… like, for example, increasing creativity! This definitely happened to Kitty, one of our residents at Sycamore House, who wrote this lovely poem inspired by one the sessions. We just had to share it with all of you!
If you are interested in more activities organised by Open Age, you can have a look at the list (link on the right) or visit their website.
“As well as the 456,976 possible starting positions for any set of four wheels, this Enigma machine offers further variations in settings which means that there are 4,134 million possible ways in which it could be set up.” Alan Turing Institute, The British Library (more…)
“As well as the 456,976 possible starting positions for any set of four wheels, this Enigma machine offers further variations in settings which means that there are 4,134 million possible ways in which it could be set up.” Alan Turing Institute, The British Library
Throughout 2018, in honour of Hammersmith United Charities’ 400th anniversary, we are celebrating the rich diversity of the local area through a curated monthly lunch series called “The Enigma Lunches.”
Inspired by a cross-communal lunch we hosted last year as part of our PhD student, Carolyn Defrin’s research, and Alan Turing’s WWII Enigma Code-cracking (that transpired as a result of a casual chance encounter with a secretary); we are excited to see what might emerge when different people come together around food, art and casual conversation.
Each month’s lunch will be hosted by different cultural community centres throughout the borough, and showcase associated food and arts activities. Additionally, each lunch will coincide with the republication of a memoir originally published during the 80s and 90s from the Hammersmith and Fulham Ethnic Communities Oral History Project.
The Ethnic Communities Oral History project ran from 1987 until 1994, and published fascinating insights in to the lives of the diverse communities that make up Hammersmith.
“If English is not your first and most fluent language, how do you share your life experiences with others, not familiar with yours… ‘ordinary people’s’ life histories deserve as wide a readership as possible.” (Sav Kyriacou, former project coordinator, The Ethnic Communities Oral History Project 1987 – 1994)
In the late 80s/early 90s, the Hammersmith and Fulham Ethnic Communities Oral History Project published a set of 12 memoirs chronicling the collective experiences of the communities that make up our very diverse borough through the specific stories of individual members of them.
“After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.” (Philip Pullman)
Nearly a quarter of a century later, as part of our marking 400 years of bringing this community together, Hammersmith United Charities is republishing these stories. Each will be launched at a special lunch held in a venue which also reflects the community in question.
We can think of no better way of celebrating the depth and richness of the heritage of our Area of Benefit nor of showcasing the range of talents and experiences from which it benefits than through the republication of these stories.
He who is different from me ….enriches me. Our unity is constituted in something higher than ourselves – in Man… For no man seeks to hear his own echo, or to find his reflection in the glass.” (Antoine de Saint- Exupery)
This is the full list of publications, we hope you enjoy them as much as we have
- The Irish in Exile – Stories of Emigration
- Passport to Exile – The Polish Way to London
- In Exile – Iranian Recollections
- The Motherland Calls – African-Caribbean Experiences
- The Forgotten Lives – Gypsies and Travellers on the Westway Site
- Xeni – Greek-Cypriots in London
- Ship of Hope – The Basque Children
- Aunt Esther’s Story (with Stephen Bourne)
- Somali Sailors
- Asian Voices – Life Stories from the Indian Sub-continent
- Sailing on Two Boats – Second Generation Perspectives
- Such a Long Story! – Chinese Voices in Britain
We at Hammersmith United Charities wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Our office reopens on the 2nd of January – enjoy the holidays!
This is a portrait of Bishop John King, painted this year by Matthew Cook for the Charity. Bishop John King (after whom King Street is named) made one of the two original gifts which formed the basis of the charity, one branch of which eventually became known as Hammersmith United Charities.
The Bishop – a committed Calvinist – had a wide ranging career which took him from preacher to the City of York to Vice Chancellor of the University of Oxford before finally becoming Bishop of London in 1611. He made his gift of £20 to buy land to benefit the poor of Fulham in 1620.
Dr Thomas Edwards made his gift of £100 to buy land in 1618 – and it is the 400th anniversary of that gift and its remarkable and enduring legacy which we will be celebrating next year.
The October Grants committee is over and we have a list of new exciting projects that we support!
Find in the Resources a list of who we support, what the money will be spend on and how much we put in.
The next grants deadline will be in January 2017, we will announce the deadline in the next days.
The September Newsletter is here!
This September our Newsletter brings the news of what we have been up to this summer and introduces our new Logo!
We aim to bring you the Newsletter every couple of months and we would welcome your feedback.
We had an exciting summer and a grants deadline coming up.
Find out more at: Newsletter September 2017
If you would like to subscribe to our Newsletter submit your email address under contact us.
The waiting list for both of our Schemes - John Betts House and Sycamore House is open! If you are interested in joining one of our schemes, find out more here....
Both houses have a communal lounge, laundry, internet access and a guest flat. Both are supported by full time scheme managers. Residents are welcome to take part in as much or as little of the regular social events programme as they choose; a regular newsletter keeps them informed of social opportunities in house and in the wid-er local community. Prospective residents should be:
- Over 60
- Have lived in the local area for at least five years or, if not currently resident in Hammersmith be able to show that they have lived in the area for 10 years or more over the course of their life
- Be on a low income
Carolyn Defrin, our Phd researcher, collaborated with Levitt Bernstein architects and artist Paul Burgess to create a film and architecture installation featuring Sycamore House and John Betts’ residents sharing memories of living in Hammersmith and their perspectives on housing.
This project featured in the June 2017 London Festival of Architecture as part of the ‘Where do you think you are?’ exhibition at St. Paul’s Centre in Hammersmith. It explored how the residents’ memories and perspectives on home and housing might impact architects’ designs for a new intergenerational housing scheme.
Residents featured in the artwork visit the exhibition with housing scheme managers, Jill and Cathy.
As residents share their stories, their memories fill the architectural models of their flats.
What’s New from Hammersmith United Charities
This April edition of The Hammer, brings news of what we have been up to across the charity over the last few months and a report on our International Womens Day event. We aim to bring you the new Hammer every couple of months – and we would welcome your feedback.
If you are interested in receiving our Newsletters, click on the top left in the link the subscription button.