Clerk to the trustees- Lynda Clarke-Jones

Lynda Clarke-Jones has been a part of the almshouse movement for many years. She was initially employed in 1994 as the Parish Council Clerk for Littleport, helping out with minute taking, agenda writing and handling a daily stream of enquiries that came in to the office. When her predecessor retired in 1998, Lynda was offered the role of Clerk and eagerly accepted.

She enjoyed the busy office environment and liked interacting with people in her local community. She held these two roles until 2018, when she retired. After retiring, she continued to support her local almshouse charity as Clerk to the Trustees and her office is now situated on-site at 5 Victoria Street. Lynda also supports an additional small almshouse charity called William Marshalls Charity, Welney. 

Littleport Town Lands Charity has 28 almshouse units on 4 sites located around the picturesque village of Littleport, with, currently 34 residents.

Lynda says, “I knew very little about almshouses until I became involved with the council and the Littleport Town Lands Charity, who run the almshouses here.  However, by the time I took over as Clerk, I got to know the residents really well. It helps being in close proximity to the almshouses as it’s easy for residents to contact me. They pop in and say hello or give me a call. I am restricted at the moment from visiting them, due to Covid-19, so we spend a lot of time on the phone!

Our charity supports the elderly and also the educational needs for the under 25’s. We give annual grants to two local primary schools, university students, apprentices and any eligible requests which fall within our remit. The grants are funded by income derived from letting our agricultural holdings. We also support requests from social services, Poss+Ability  and AGE UK, in the ancient parish of Littleport.

I really enjoy being part of this community and supporting the needs of our wonderful residents. The job is incredibly fulfilling and you really feel like you are making a difference to local people and the needs of the local community.”

Currently, Lynda’s office is just across the road from her own home, which means she can keep a caring eye open for any issues or difficulties that may arise. The charity also has a dedicated mobile phone number for resident to call in an emergency. When Lynda goes on holiday or has a weekend away, the Chairman of the Trustees monitors everything to ensure all the residents are safe and happy. He has access to the mobile phone so residents still feel they can contact someone if they are in need.

Lynda’s role includes budget management, paying bills and ensuring contributions are paid on a regular basis. She also manages the daily running of the office, as well as maintaining the waiting list for almshouse residents. Her hours are flexible and usually coincide with the daily delivery of post.

Being a locally based charity, the local community often connect with the Trustees. This means the Trustees have local accountability in how they run the charity.  Lynda is also kept up to date with any queries or issues that she may not have heard about via the residents.  Outside agencies including Occupational Therapy Services and the local Medical Centre are both aware of the almshouses in Littleport and often seek information on the application process, for those in need.

All the residents know where to find Lynda, which is really helpful for them. It gives them a sense of security and they know there is someone available to help them, if they need anything. This doesn’t impact on their independence though. The residents are able to live independently, but also know they have people to contact, if necessary.

Lynda comments: “out of hours, the residents only usually contact me if there is a real emergency; I am always on hand to help them if they need any support and feel honoured that the residents hold me and the Trustees in high regard. This is incredibly heart-warming.”

The maintenance of the almshouses is a priority for the charity and any reported problems such as leaking taps, toilets, electrical issues and any small building works are usually carried out very quickly. 

Lynda remarks:  “luckily a band of local tradesmen are on hand within a day to fix any problems. It’s a great sense of community spirit and the almshouses have contributed to local people collaborating.

Our residents know they are in affordable, warm accommodation (some have never had central heating), surrounded by others in prime locations, near to local conveniences and family.  The sense of camaraderie is lovely. The residents look out for each other helping the less able with grass cutting, shopping, etc.

It’s been a wonderful experience getting to know the residents and their families and helping those less fortunate than myself.”

Lynda’s special memories include a time when she arranged to drive a couple to view a vacant almshouse bungalow. They put on their ‘Sunday best’ for the viewing and were enthralled by the facilities offered, such as a fitted kitchen with work surfaces.  They moved in and were delighted with their almshouse. Very sadly the wife was in poor health and passed away a year later. Her husband, every year, on the anniversary of his wife’s passing, and until he passed away, gave Lynda a tomato plant from his greenhouse.

The Littleport Town Lands Charity has a special relationship with The Almshouse Association. The Almshouse Association granted the member charity a loan to build a new pair of bungalows on a site where a single bungalow once stood. (see before and after photo above)

Lynda notes, “the support and knowledge we have gained from The Almshouse Association, has been really helpful to us, and we were so pleased to be able to provide two new bungalows on the existing site, thus helping another local person in need.”