We aim to provide and maintain high quality housing and support for older people of limited means in London by
- Developing the highest standards of accommodation for older people in our community
- Creating a friendly and supportive environment, enabling residents to live independently
- Providing residents with comfort, respect and stimulation, irrespective of background, creed or colour
- Employing professional staff, with appropriate qualifications, skills and experience, committed to learning and development
- Reviewing and consulting regularly on how to improve our performance and the quality of housing and service we provide
- Developing new skills and solutions to the problems associated with ageing
- Promoting a greater awareness of the housing needs of older people
The history of the Almshouses
Miss Goodwin and three sisters, Elizabeth, Amy and Clara Harrison founded the ‘Homes for the Aged Poor’ which eventually became known as ‘Harrison Homes’. The founders, like many Victorian benefactors, were motivated by the poverty and hardship suffered by retired domestic staff; often, these respectable people were reduced to destitution on leaving a lifetime of service, and were forced to enter the workhouse during their later years, where life-expectancy was extremely short and conditions were both appalling and harsh.
The first experimental home consisted of an eight-bedroom house in Portland Road, West London, which was acquired in 1869. It housed sixteen residents who were either married couples or who shared with a friend. Over the next thirty years, many donations of both properties and money were received and, by 1899, the charity had opened a further fourteen almshouses providing housing to 172 residents.
Several adjacent terraced houses were acquired in Minford Gardens, Shepherds Bush, and progressively additional houses were added in the same terrace as they became available. Today, behind the Victorian façade of numbers 7 to 17 Minford Gardens, is a sheltered housing scheme which is home to some twenty residents who live in self-contained one – bedroom flats.
The charity acquired No. 42 St James’s Square (now Gardens), the former Convent of the Little Sisters of the Assumption, and the following year, No. 43 was purchased. Over the next eighty years more adjacent buildings were added, the last being at No 47.
Since 1965 there has been a Preservation Order on all the houses in St James’s Gardens. The Trustees in 1968 decided to build additional accommodation to the rear of Nos 42-43 in order to provide accommodation for a further 16 residents. Today, the Charity’s properties in St. James’s Gardens houses 48 retired residents in one – bedroom flats.
Following a legal review of Harrison Homes’ constitution, the charity was incorporated under company law with the adoption of a modern constitution. The name was changed to Harrison Housing
We began to manage Greenwoods Almshouses in Camden on behalf of the Leonard Hackett Memorial Trust (a subsidiary of the Almshouse Association). With the aid of a government grant, we totally refurbishment the property and eliminated the operating deficit. A subsequent Housing Corporation Audit congratulated us on the quality of the work. Latterly, Greenwoods Almshouses were merged with Harrison Housing.
We took on the management of 11 Units in Herne Hill belonging to the Howis Trust. This charity was merged with Harrison Housing in June 2007 and its properties underwent a major refurbishment in 2011 to bring them up to modern day standards (and increase the number of units to 12), with the help of a grant from the Homes and Communities Agency.
We took over from Westminster Abbey, the Whicher & Kifford Charity which owns six flats in Vauxhall and, with financial help from the Abbey, the complete refurbishment of the property has been completed. We are in the process of merging the charity with Harrison Housing.
There are eight Trustees who give their services voluntarily and meet as frequently as necessary. There is also a group of six voluntary Visitors, each of whom acts as confidant and friend to a number of residents, visiting them regularly.
Day to day administration is carried out by the professional staff under the Chief Executive (who reports to the Trustees). The staff team includes a Director of Finance, Housing Manager, Property Services Manager, Management Accountant, Finance Officer/Administrator, Scheme Managers and Housekeepers.
Harrison Housing now manages, on its own account and on behalf of other Almshouse Charities, housing schemes in Camden, Herne Hill, Hounslow, Waltham Abbey, West Hackney and Vauxhall – a total of over 130 owned and managed flats.
At the heart of all we do is the support and encouragement we give to our residents through the excellent work of our Scheme Managers and staff.
Kathryn started at Harrison Housing in 2014 as Finance Director, coming from the London Eye and London Aquarium.
Her involvement in the Charity’s strategic plans and passion for people helped her succeed in becoming the Charity’s first female Chief Executive.
Kathryn is an ACCA certified accountant, she has varied experience in finance and a love of older people. As well as being good with figures, she enjoys cycling, snowboarding and eating mangoes.
Arvydas joined us in 2009 as a handyman and after leaning a ladder against the wall he has climbed it step by step reaching the top as our Property Services Manager. Now responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the charity’s almshouse accommodation (five owned sites and four sites the charity manages), his aim is to provide excellent service to residents and ensure that properties are maintained at a high level.
Julia joined us in 2015. She has extensive experience in the social housing sector and has managed sheltered housing and support services for older residents for many years. As well as her work in housing she has 3 almost grown-up children and an allotment which takes up all of her spare time.