2018 Almshouse Association Award for Excellence & Inspiration

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


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.