Charity issues

Liversage Trust : providing housing in Derby for older people for nearly 500 years

“My husband says it’s better than winning the lottery…and we’ve been here nearly 20 years. We feel safe” says a resident of the Liversage Trust’s  Franchise Street estate.

The Liversage Trust is Derby’s oldest charity, founded in 1529, by Robert Liversage. It was created to support “the poor” in the City and for 400 years it has provided accommodation in the form of almshouses.  It is remarkable that, in an environment where many charities struggle to survive due to funding issues,  the Liversage Trust continues unabated through maintaining a clear focus on why it was set up. Sound financial management, and sensitive and caring support for its residents,  has ensured that it remains independent and self-sustaining….for the long term.

In 2017, the Trust owns 160 homes, on 4 estates in Derby, each containing a welcoming community centre. The properties are made available to people over the age of 60, who “must be able to show that they are in need, hardship or distress arising from their present housing circumstances.” There is a residential care home just off London Road which is for the more frailer resident.  The Trust has other properties that are for any age group, as well as commercial properties which help to generate additional income.

The charities offices, and one of the oldest terraces in Derby, is on London Road, opposite Florence Nightingale and the old Derby Royal Infirmary.

The Arthur Hind Estate, just off Kedleston Road, is set back from the main road in a contained, ‘country-estate’-like enclave. It was built in 1975, and there are 21 flats, with small garden sitting areas, and for some, very pleasant south-facing balconies.

The community room was converted from a house, a few years ago to help with the social life of the estate . Heather told me:

“ Since this house was converted into a community room, then we are a lot more closer to each other. We do have the advantage of going on trips which the Liversage arrange for us.  4 are arranged this summer. The trust are very very good to us”

“It’s like a little village – and we,  more or less, know each other.”

They have keep fit on a Monday afternoon, with chair based exercises. Parties are arranged at Christmas, and Easter,  fish and chip suppers, quiz nights, darts tournaments against the other estates…and more.

“Can’t thank them enough for helping us out…I don’t know what we would have done otherwise”

“That’s the real point….and what always comes through, all of the time….that kindness…yes, their lovely……..I get a bit choked, because I think we’re lucky to be here”

One of the other estates is at Franchise Street, just off Uttoxeter New Road. There are 47 different properties built over the last 50 years, some as recently as 2006, made up of predominantly one bedroomed properties. The site has its own purpose built community centre, run by a committee which arranges a variety of social activities for all of the residents.

Franchise Street is home to a couple of ladies who have been residents for 25 years. They have seen many changes in management style over that period – some they like, some they don’t, but those are minor points of preference.

The over-arching compliment from all is the quality and friendliness of the support from the staff:

Marion tells me

“My shower broke one evening, I called them, and they were there by `10 in the morning. You can’t complain with that….and the maintenance man was  lovely.”

“It feels like home, and not a complex for older people. It’s good because you never have to be lonely. There is always someone to speak to.”

Simple, genuine,  sentiments  underpinning the value of a centuries old, much-overlooked, gem, operating in the heart of Derby. It deserves more recognition. This charity, quietly, confidently and assuredly endures in delivering its original focus unperturbed by politics, the changing face of the environment,  styles, fashions and opinions.

An inspirational legacy, and thriving institution, in Derby !

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