There have been almshouses in the United Kingdom for more than 1000 years, with the oldest almshouse charity foundation still in existence being the Hospital of St Oswald in Worcester founded in 990. Many are old, often beautiful historic buildings, others are more modern and some are newly built. What they all have in common is their provision of affordable housing and support for the needy or vulnerable, often older people and are usually managed by local trustees.
The Association traces its roots back to February 1946 when, at a meeting held in the Chapter House of Southwark Cathedral, representatives of London’s almshouses formed a committee to safeguard the interests of almshouse buildings and the welfare of residents.
In 1950, the committee extended its remit, and the National Association of Almshouses (The Almshouse Association) was born. The objects of the Association are to assist charity trustees to manage their resources effectively, to support them in providing good quality housing for those in need, to promote the welfare and independence of residents and to preserve the historic tradition of almshouses for future generations.
Today, The Almshouse Association is an essential component of the almshouse movement; we continue to provide support, information and guidance on a broad range of general and specific issues, to over 1600 independent almshouse member charities that provide homes for around 35,000 residents across the United Kingdom.
Over the years our services have extended to include guidance manuals, policy documents and model templates, training seminars, interest-free loans and funding, as well as providing a platform for members to advertise resident vacancies, discuss best practices and share knowledge at local meetings and via our members’ forum.
We meet regularly with the Charity Commission (the regulator for almshouses), Homes England, and have set up an All Party Parliamentary Group for Almshouses (APPG). As regulation and housing standards and expectations change, there is a need for almshouses to meet those changes by updating policies and procedures and modernising dwellings where possible and to ensure modern standards are provided in new buildings. The Almshouse Association is on hand to ensure our members are kept up to date with changes in legislation and give advice on all aspects of a building project.
Almshouses are managed by volunteer trustees and are often built in relatively small groups that become an enduring and important part of the fabric of their local community; local craftsmen and materials have traditionally been used. Trustees (or governors) of almshouse charities are usually people who want to become involved in their local almshouses in order to provide good quality accommodation for people in need in their area. Click here to find out more about Trusteeship
The Association has its own Board of Trustees, based in different areas of the UK with local knowledge that permits them to advise and assist charities in their given counties.
We produce a quarterly Almshouses Gazette which is sent to all our members. We endeavour to make the content informative and attractive – generally speaking 50% will be articles on current issues and 50% will be news stories sent in by our member charities.
Our members pay a subscription fee which covers around 50% of our annual running costs. For the remainder, to ensure we continue to provide all these services we fund-raise and seek sponsorship. 80% of almshouse charities are small, providing fewer than 20 dwellings and the volunteer trustees rely solely on weekly maintenance contributions from residents to remain viable. With voluntary support, as well as providing advice and guidance, The Association can assist almshouse charities by way of interest free loans to cover the cost of ongoing repairs as well as remodelling and modernisation. If you would like to donate or leave a legacy, your support and generosity would be gratefully received. Please click here for further information
Did you know?
One of the roles of the Almshouse Association is to come to the aid of almshouse charities which are in difficulty.
>>> For more information about the Leonard Hackett Memorial Trust please click here.