Almhouses are a wonderful institution. They date back to the very beginnings of our charity history in the UK. Established as places of refuge and safety for the most destitute in society, they continue a great charitable tradition today of supporting older people to live independent lives, yet in a safe and caring environments. Small communities that provide a safe haven in what are often fabulous historic buildings.
So I was delighted when Barbara Young, who is the dynamic CEO of Diabetes UK suggested I might become a Vice Patron of the National Association of Almshouses. They are undertaking an anniversary appeal for funds to support their work.
I've always been fascinated by the great history of charities in this country. It is a hugely under researched subject. The 2 main books on charity history are quite old and, bizarrely, written by Americans. Paul Palmer at CASS has written his doctoral thesis on this but its not published. At some stage I intend to rectify this myself. I have been dropping hints around Oxford; you would think they would have a fellowship here (let alone a professorial chair) but they don't. And they do of course have a great archive around the colleges and in the Bodleian.
But in the meantime I shall do my bit as a Vice Patron to support this marvellous bit of our sector! Let me know if you want further information.