History of the Almshouse Movement

Almshouses are homes run by charities to enable older people who are struggling, for various reasons, to continue living in their community.  Today there are 1,717 independent almshouse charities in the UK providing homes for 35,000 residents.

Almshouses have been part of British life for many generations, tracing their origins to the middle ages. Resident well-being and independence and a strong sense of community are the hallmarks of almshouses and they aim to offer optimism and confidence in older age.

The word “almshouse” often conjures up an image of a row of picturesque cottages in the heart of a small town or village. And indeed, many are distinctive, listed buildings.

Most almshouse charities are small, providing fewer than twenty homes. They usually rely on weekly contributions from the residents to remain viable.  Most are run by trustees supported by part-time staff who know all the residents and often their families too.