Although William Wilberforce is celebrated this bicentenary year for the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade, what is not well known is the way his compassion and zeal extended to needy, elderly Christians. For several years, until his death in 1833, he was vice-president of The Aged Pilgrims’ Friend Society (now Pilgrim Homes) and worked tirelessly with the society to help free the elderly from appalling social conditions.
This year is also Pilgrim Homes’ bicentennial year. The society was founded by a group of young Christians in August 1807. They would be amazed to see today that, although we live in a welfare state, many elderly people still suffer in their old age – isolated because of frailty, outliving friends and relatives, and sometimes even forgotten by church fellowships.
Each week around 60 people die alone, without the support of family and friends, according to a study presented a year ago by MP Paul Burstow, a member of the Commons Health Committee.
2007 sees a double thanksgiving for Pilgrim Homes, as it also marks the opening of its newest development, a 58-flat extra care housing scheme in Mirfield, West Yorkshire. Royd Court has been designed as a safe, Christian neighbourhood, and people living there will be offered the care and support they need to live independently in their own homes.
More information from www.royd-court.org.uk or by writing to Pilgrim Homes, 175 Tower Bridge Road, London SE1 2AL.