Pilgrim Homes rebrand
A new name with a long history in the Christian sector emerged in April, as the 203-year-old Pilgrim Homes restructured and became part of the newly-formed Pilgrims’ Friend Society.
The charity needed to move from being a single entity to a group charity structure, because of the growth of the organisation over the years. It was founded as The Aged Pilgrims’ Friend Society (APFS) in London on 12 August 1807, by a group of people, led by founding father James Bissett. These were dismayed at the dire conditions in which many elderly Christians were living and the way that their needs, including their spiritual needs, were neglected even by their churches.
Although it struggled to raise funds at first, the APFS gradually won respect and support from leading Christians of the day, including the great social reformer Lord Shaftesbury and renowned preacher Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
Convinced of the value of each individual to God, William Wilberforce became vice-president and remained in post until his death in 1833. For decades, the APFS helped supply needy elderly Christians with regular pensions, which were always delivered in person together with spiritual support and encouragement. With the coming of the welfare state and the introduction of state pensions, APFS pensions were phased out.
The society, which became Pilgrim Homes in the 1970s, now offers residential and nursing care, sheltered housing and extra care housing in 12 schemes in the UK. Its most recent new-build was Royd Court in Mirfield, Yorkshire, which is an extra care housing scheme with 58 flats for purchase or rent, which opened in 2007. The society also shares its experience and expertise at conferences and seminars, and in publications.
In recent years, the society has been approached for help by smaller charities with similar objectives who are struggling with falling income and support. Three have already been taken on board and are now part of the charity group.
The Pilgrims’ Friend Society now includes the Ernest Luff Homes, the Redbourn Missionary Trust and Pilgrim Care, which provides domiciliary care. In the next couple of months, they will be joined by Pilgrim Homes, with its 10 care and housing schemes, and Pilgrim Homes Trading Ltd, which handles sales of the society’s books and its conferences.
Chief Executive Andrew Jessop said, ‘The Charity Commission had been recommending it for some time. The restructure allows us to continue to expand our work for older Christians and allows us to keep pace with their changing needs. Furthermore, this larger and more flexible structure is more cost-effective and maximises the amount of our income that is devoted to care’. (More information: www.pilgrimsfriend.org.uk).