Hammersmith United Charities

Hammersmith United Charities traces its origins to a bequest in 1618 of £100 (now worth about £10,000) by Dr Thomas Edwards to buy lands for the poor in Fulham. Two years later Bishop King added a further £20 and the Dr Edwards and Bishop King’s Fulham Charity was established. In 1863, in recognition of the fact the Hammersmith had become a separate parish, the charity’s assets were divided between a Fulham and a Hammersmith branch. In 1923, the Hammersmith branch was brought together with a number of other bequests to form Hammersmith United Charities.

Until 2008, the main focus of the charity was the care and well-being of older people within the Area of Benefit (the former metropolitan borough of Hammersmith). This continues in the provision of almshouse accommodation. The charity owns and runs two almshouses providing a total of 94 flats.

In 2008, following a restructuring of the almshouse accommodation, trustees were in a position to introduce a grants programme. Research into the needs of the area was commissioned from the LSE and the Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion. The resulting report has shaped the grants programme, leading to an emphasis on supporting work with vulnerable young people or children including work to tackle issues around unemployment and worklessness.

The grants programme made its first grants in March 2012. In a full year, the programme will be worth £300,000. Trustees are keen to work in partnership within their Area of Benefit and to add value to other programmes by offering match funding in appropriate circumstances. They have, for example, indicated their intention to match fund the Big Lottery “Big Local” programme in Wormholt and White City. Given our very specific Area of Benefit, we are keen to develop collaborative approaches to grantmaking, working with potential grantees to identify key issues locally and to build the capacity of local organisations to meet those needs effectively.

We have joined London Funders because it seems to offer an important opportunity to have a part in shaping the strategic environment around funding; we recognise that the London funding context is very specific and we see networking with others working here as vital; and as a new face on the funding scene, we are hungry to share knowledge and ideas.