2018 Almshouse Association Awards

The Almshouse Association introduced two new awards for 2018 to complement the Patron’s Award and make our awards more inclusive for all members – the Award for Excellence and Inspiration and the Gardens and People Award.

The Almshouse Association Awards Committee selected the following charities to receive this Award.

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Worcester Municipal Charities

 The charity has a traditional Grade I set of almshouses at Berkeley’s Almshouses and chapel with 7 residents.  The objects are “helping the poor” with no age restriction and the trustees have taken an innovative approach to support homeless younger people in difficulty.  There is a joined up approach to assisting residents through three charities that Worcester Municipal supports with premises and grants. The new development of Thomas White Court in Worcester has provided 10 brand new flats in the city centre.  The modern buildings provide excellent accommodation for single people including bedroom, bathroom and first rate kitchen and living area.  The flats are light and airy and spacious and residents all seemed delighted with a place of their own. The charity also has a holistic approach to their residents and provides advice, support, furniture, white goods, carpets and where necessary, budget managing training all through the local CAB, Maggs and Armchair which are all supported by the charity.


Mabel Luke Charity, Newbury

 Founded in 1928 by Mrs Mabel  Luke who was distressed at the poor housing available for families in the area.  Mrs Luke bought 5 plots of land near the town centre and had 4 terraced houses built on them to be provided to local working families.  The remaining two plots were left undeveloped and became overgrown and a wilderness attracting fly tipping After much discussion and local consultation, this small body of trustees undertook a huge project to demolish their existing 4 family homes which had become tired and in need of updating and to replace these with 16 modern flats in 3 blocks for families.  The result has been a superb development very close to the centre of Newbury. All of the flats are occupied, mostly by young families and the sense of community here is outstanding. The accommodation is in three blocks of flats at Mabel Luke Place: two of them on three floors, with four two-bed and two one-bed flats and mansard roofs; the other on two floors with four two-bed flats. They follow the building line, with generous parking area to the rear and semi-private grassed and planted amenity space front and back. Their structure is timber framed with brick cladding below and white render and tile-hanging above. This new development has made a significant impact in the area.  The building is attractive and residents have plenty of parking provided and lovely communal rear gardens to the rear of the property which are totally enclosed and safe for the young children to play outside.


The Finchley Charities, London

 The Finchley Charities felt there was a housing need for further one bedroom units for applicants on their waiting list. They wanted a design that would provide affordable and accessible lifelong homes equipped with modern telecare for its residents in order to meet current and future care and support needs.   The design is robust, low maintenance, a highly energy efficient building with good security and fully compliant with the latest fire regulations. The new homes had to integrate into the existing community with all the positive feelings of health and wellbeing, support, friendship and doing things together. The 16 new flats have access to a new garden area encouraging residents to spend time talking and meeting outside their personal homes. All units follow a similar floor plan with large bedrooms and ample contemporary shower rooms.  All are wheelchair accessible on the ground floor. There are two slightly larger homes which are adaptable wheelchair accessible units.  Kitchens are semi open plan to the living room, which allows light to spill into the units from both sides. The result of all of this is a beautifully crafted building and gardens providing a delightful place to live in an existing community.  The Almshouses have been reinterpreted and now have all the benefits of the 21st century.


Peter Birtwistle Trust, Colne, Lancs

 Peter Birtwistle Trust has 83 dwellings over 5 different sites in Colne.  In 2013 trustees decided to explore the possibility of providing further accommodation on land they owned. The site is very steep and so only part would be suitable for bungalows for elderly residents.  The remainder of the land has been sold privately and the charity was able to provide 12 new one bedroom bungalows in two rows of 6 in this stunning location. Interiors are excellent with kitchens having dedicated space for a full sized washing machine, cooker and fridge freezer together with adequate space for a table and chairs.  Large bedrooms and a very generous entrance hall with all rooms leading off gives a feeling of spaciousness and is large enough to manoeuvre a wheelchair.  The 2 gable end bungalows on the lower row are fitted with wet room bathrooms and all internal and external doors are wider than standard to accommodate wheelchair access.  Additionally, there is wheelchair access to the patio area around the side of the building. Twelve garages and stores have been incorporated into the design to utilise the area below the top row of bungalows, taking advantage of the slope on the site.  In addition, a platform lift has been provided to enable residents to access bungalows from the road below. Balconies and patio areas afford each property its own dedicated space but have a communal feel achieved by the use of planters for demarcation purposes.


Harborne Parish Lands Charity / Lench’s Trust / Sir Josiah Mason Trust / Yardley Great Trust

 The above four charities are based in Birmingham and Solihull and provide almshouse accommodation for some 800 residents.  It was felt that resident involvement should be encouraged though it can be difficult for smaller charities.  The four charities Chief Executives meet regularly and decided to develop a Residents’ Scrutiny Panel and invite residents from each charity to compare and contrast each organisation’s performance, assisted by a facilitator funded by the four charities. The Scrutiny Panel was set up and 3 or 4 residents from each charity were appointed.  Residents are expected to attend coffee mornings at their own charity and discuss issues with the other residents in order to ensure they are reflecting opinions of different residents before reporting back to the Panel.  Recommendations are then made to the Boards of Trustees of each of the charities for consideration. This innovative idea has the potential to improve residents’ lives, improve relationships with their respective charities, improve performance of the charities and enhance the charities’ reputation.


Three Almshouse charities were selected by HRH The Prince of Wales to receive the Patron’s Awards for projects completed in 2018. .

Chandos and Dent’s Almshouse in Winchcombe, Gloucestershire

The Chandos Almshouses were founded in 1573 at a time when Winchcombe had great poverty.  The almshouses were founded by Lady Dorothy Chandos whose family resided at Sudley Castle.  The building is Grade II Listed and is located within Winchcombe Conservation Area. In 1961 a substantial alteration was undertaken converting the almshouses to twelve bedsitting rooms with a separate bathroom and kitchen located in a new extension. A major upgrade was needed as it was becoming more difficult to find suitable residents for such small accommodation. A new layout was created with the living area to the rear of the properties providing residents with a view south over the river Isbourne to Sudley Castle and the Cotswold hills  A separate bedroom is provided to the front of the property at the quiet Mill Lane side. There are now eleven flats, one of which has two bedrooms.  The ten single person almshouses have a living room with kitchen area, a separate bedroom and an internal shower room with WC and wash basin. There are laundry facilities on each floor as the kitchen layout does not have space for individual washing machines.  Electrical power has been reconfigured and all lighting is provided with low energy LED lights.  The building now provides low maintenance accommodation for local residents in need.


The Mills Charity, Framlingham, Suffolk

 Thomas Mills, a wealthy wheelwright and timber merchant lived and worked in Framlingham, Suffolk.  Bequests from both Thomas Mills and his servant William Mayhew provided for the construction in 1704 of eight almshouses. These small almshouses are still in existence and have been refurbished by the charity. In recent years it had become apparent that there was a great accommodation need in the area for young families as many were moving out of the village as they could not afford property there.  Trustees had substantial funds available and it was decided to provide more almshouses for a mixed community of local people on a plot of land owned by the charity. Trustees were keen to develop a new scheme which would have a social impact on the village and foster a sense of community.  It was decided to provide ten family homes and four one bedroom flats. Each of the houses has its own small, enclosed garden and there is a shared, well lit pathway for rear access.  The interiors are extremely well designed with fully fitted kitchens including electric hob, oven, cooker hood, fridge/freezer, washing machine and dishwasher, all with clearly labelled switches.  All the kitchen white goods provided and maintained by the charity and also included are carpets in all living areas, non-slip floor tiles in kitchens and bathrooms.  Plenty of storage space has been included in all of the dwellings. Trustees were determined to ensure that architecturally the buildings would have an affinity to the locality as well as be able to be identified as classic traditional almshouses.  The design of a concave cul- de-sac terrace was thought to be an impressive addition to the village and encourage a sense of community and neighbourliness.


The Charity of James Goodman, Cranfield, Bedfordshire

 James Goodman was born in Cranfield and moved to London to become a builder.  He established 3 almshouses in Cranfield in 1885 and a further 5 almshouses in 1892 and gave a 3 acre field to the charity.  The 8 almshouses in the village have been modernised and are in constant demand.  The 3 acre field was sold and gave funds to the trustees to develop a new site of almshouses. There are 12 bungalows built around a very traditional almshouse quadrangle site on the edge of a new development of housing but very close to walk into the centre of the village. All of the properties have disabled access.  Large wet rooms have been provided and each bungalow has two bedrooms, kitchens are well designed and beautifully fitted out and all rooms have under floor heating with easy to manage controls. Two of the properties are slightly larger and provide suitable accommodation for wheelchair users.  The communal building has photo voltaic cells providing lighting for all outside areas. All properties have a covered walkway allowing access to gardens and bin stores and store rooms are provided for bicycles and mobility scooters. A communal building provides a large kitchen and meeting room for residents’ use together with a Boardroom and office for charity trustees. Outside the property has secure fencing and access to the car park is by automatic gates.  Within the central courtyard area there is a scented garden and water feature. This charity has provided excellent, modern accommodation whilst using a traditional format for almshouses and was seen as a truly outstanding project.


This new Award is for charities that have encouraged residents to take part in community projects such as gardening.  Five charities were presented with this Award for 2018. .

Hammersmith United Charities

The Charity has two sheltered schemes, John Betts House and Sycamore House, located in Hammersmith and the gardens are the jewels in the crown.  They are completely concealed from external view and filled with hanging baskets and raised beds, where residents can plant vegetables and fruits in the summer. The gardens are an oasis in an urban environment and a platform for our residents to get involved in the various workshops and gardening projects that are run by Jackie our Community Gardener. Jackie has built the gardens based on organic principles that help the environment by growing plants that attract butterflies, bees and birds; plants that are stimulating in colour, smell and texture.  She works with residents so that they can be involved and become active in the gardens: setting up window boxes, hanging baskets and raised beds.  As one resident said “everybody loves the garden, people who come here, (residents) and it had never occurred to them to have a flower pot, Jackie has encouraged them.”


Roger’s Almshouses, Harrogate, North Yorkshire

 For the 150th anniversary of the charity, residents were asked if there was something they would like as part of the celebration.  They indicated that they would like something to create more of a sense of community.  The idea of re-landscaping the front garden with additional seating areas was put forward and a brief to have a garden that showed colour all year and was easy to maintain was set out. The garden is largely herbaceous underplanted with spring flowering bulbs for early colour and has seats positioned to encourage residents to enjoy the colours, scents, butterflies and bees.  The garden is popular and has brought residents out to chat together and admire the scents and colours of the lovely new garden area.


The Eventide Homes, Bournemouth

 The almshouses are on a large estate in an urbanised part of Bournemouth next to a large shopping centre. There are almost as many trees as homes on the estate, which enhance the quality of life in the urban environment, and form an integral part of its shape, colour and diversity. The Charity help facilitate a residents’ gardening club that meets once a month from March until October each year and residents are encouraged to participate. The aims and objectives are agreed with residents each year.  The Club is an opportunity for residents to have a say in the appearance of the areas maintained by the Charity’s contracted landscapers and gardeners. In 2018, the Residents Gardening Club won Gold in the Bournemouth in Bloom ‘Communal Gardens’ and ‘Hanging Basket’ displays. In addition, they also received a Councillor’s Award for being ‘Blooming Marvellous’. In 2018 a resident left a bequest to the charity and trustees decided to use this to provide a  Sensory Garden which would serve all, especially our less mobile residents, who may find it difficult to access a garden ordinarily. The idea being that those folk who are less able, who enjoy to garden, are able to access a space where they can get involved in planting or just meet, sit and enjoy the outdoor space.


Tiverton Almshouse Trust

 It was decided to create a flower garden in a backyard area of Greenway Gardens almshouse site.  Forty residents live here ranging in age from 60 to 90 years.  The trust provided a raised area of wooden pallet construction for residents to be able to have their own pots, take control of planting, watering and deadheading as necessary. Before this initiative the area was a functional space with wheelie bins and access to the communal laundry facilities.  It is now an area full of colour which has brought residents together and has become a meeting place where focus is on the colours and plants.  A core group of residents have come together to look after the area and were awarded a Community Garden Trophy and a certificate of merit from RHS.


St Giles Almshouses at Wilton United Charities

For years, the gardens at St Giles comprised two front lawns with shrubberies and a large tree, with a paved courtyard behind. Most residents had already put up their own hanging baskets and planted pots to cheer up the courtyard and the seating area by the front lawns and wanted to do more. The Trustees were very pleased when a couple of residents asked if they could take over the front borders too and make them more colourful. A professional tree surgeon was hired to thin the tree by a third so more light could fall on the borders and the residents pruned the shrubs to gain more space for planting. The Trustees added a large storage shed for tools and a mower in the courtyard for communal use and a space for garden furniture that needed to be stored for the winter. Last year we appointed a new resident, Mrs Bridget Read, who turned out to be a most enthusiastic gardener. She has transformed the garden from a mostly green area into a blaze of colour and added some attractive stone ornaments from her previous home. Passers-by have commented how lovely the gardens are now, and it was awarded First Place in the local “Wilton in Bloom” Award. Another resident, although a ‘reluctant gardener’, was inspired to use his own talents to completely renovate an old wooden bench. He repainted the cast iron ends and expertly replaced and varnished new wooden slats. Now all the residents can sit in this sunny spot to enjoy their beautiful garden. The Trustees are pleased that not only has this garden been a real asset and enhancement for St Giles Almshouses, but it has enabled the residents to have a place where they can get to know each other and socialise.


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