Our Gardens at Sycamore House and John Betts House are a platform for workshops and social events enabling people to work in their own part of the garden, or to simply relax and enjoy…

Secret Gardens

With acknowledgement to the Open Garden Square’s blog “Tales from Duck Island”

You could easily pass by Sycamore House in Hammersmith without any inkling of the garden delights created by the tenants inside. An old garden with mature shrubs and planting was here prior to 2012 , but it had to make way for new building and accommodation.  However, the benefits of a garden was not forgotten in the redevelopment. Sycamore House’s Community Gardener, Jackie Thompson, set herself the task of designing an even better garden, and, with the help of the architects, a delightful winding lane of plants now weaves its way between the sheltered housing.The new garden is only five years old and has already won the Challenge Cup for large community gardens in almshouses run by the London Gardens’ Society not once, but two years in a row, which is a tribute to the efforts of Jackie and her team of volunteer garden residents. Founded on the principle of successional planting, there is colour whatever the weather.In November the Beautyberry (Callicarpa) was showing off its purple fruit, perfectly offset by a planting of pink neriums. A red salvia was in bloom not far away from this arbour and throughout plants have been carefully chosen to reflect scent, touch, colour and seasons. Throughout the winding walk a variety of different fruits pop up out of the border –  redcurrants, grapes, strawberries, kiwi fruits and an espalier-trained apple tree sit cheek by jowl with flowers, shrubs and grasses. Despite designing the garden from scratch, Jackie does not dogmatically follow a set planting pattern and encourages the personalisation of the borders by the residents.Active involvement is key. She stresses that this is not an old people’s home and it certainly feels very different. Speaking about the garden Jackie said “ I’ve set out to create an oasis of tranquillity which blends colour from flowering plants with that from fruit. With the help of some very dedicated residents here, we have made a garden which is both relaxing and interesting.”

10 minutes further down Goldhawk Road, John Betts House garden – award winner in London Garden Society’s small community garden category – offers a very different feel.  The garden’s centrepiece is a series of arches which were planted to create a blowsy, flowing feel, with the plants and grasses spilling over the central path, brushing by visitors as they pass. John Betts House was constructed in 1964 by Hammersmith United Charities and extensively refurbished in 1998.  Built up around an inner, secluded garden, it has presented its challenges to Jackie and her resident garden volunteers, as the garden area was used to dump the rubble from the building work – so the digging is hard.

Given the challenges of the soil here, the gardeners originally concluded that the only way was up and perfected the art of growing flowers in pots. The pots and hanging baskets which adorn the balconies overlooking the main, internal garden courtyard were still blooming in a very balmy December.  And the horticultural endeavours of the residents are being recognised locally – last year John Betts came third in the small community garden category of the London Garden Society Competition – catching up on its successful sister garden, Sycamore House. Residents benefit by having a designated area for growing vegetables in raised beds so there are strawberries and vegetables aplenty in the summer.

Hammersmith United Charities Response to Coronavirus (COVID-19)

In line with Government advice, Hammersmith United Charities has invoked our Business Continuity Plan and implemented a new operating model focussed on keeping the residents of our Almshouses, our team, contractors and partners safe and well during the Coronavirus pandemic. (more…)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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community@hammersmith

HUC Film Project

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Black Lives Matter

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

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

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

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

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

 


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

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