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It’s beginning…

It's beginning

“It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…”

Michael Bublé’s crooning started ringing in my ears and with the first snow of the winter falling outside recently, I really started to believe it was true!  When I was then presented with my share of this year’s DAMHA Christmas cards to sign, I realised that there was no doubt that the magical season was really upon us.

Sending out Christmas cards every year is something that we still do.  We are aware that it is a lot less fashionable than it used to be and many corporate organisations resort to emails and electronic greetings because they are a lot cheaper and less time consuming to prepare.  But we don’t do that.  We still send Christmas cards, for the simple reason that we like to receive them ourselves and appreciate that someone has taken the time and the energy to remember us.  And if we enjoy it, then we hope that those that receive our cards will enjoy it too!







This started me thinking about why we do so many things of the things that we do.  The almshouse movement has been around for a thousand years. Just recently our Finance Director has joined the Board of another almshouse which has been in operation for 750 years and is still growing and developing. Earlier this year we celebrated our own 125th Anniversary, and the legacy that Joseph Hopper left that has grown over all that time.

Almshouses like DAMHA were set up, and continue to exist, because there was, and still is, a need.  And we want to help.  Our Board are all volunteers taking no payment for their time, but helping with their expertise, advice, and support simply because they want to make a difference.  Our founders often set things away at great personal expense in money and effort.

We try our best to do the right thing, not because it is easy, but because it is hard, to coin a phrase.  Almshouses may not be shooting for the moon, but keeping going providing comfortable homes for those in need at times does feel like an epic endeavour when market forces and occasionally the whims of changing government policy work against you.

So why bother?  Wouldn’t it be easier to hand the reigns over to a larger Housing Association and let them handle everything?  Well, it might be easier, but it wouldn’t be right.  Almshouses are different. We have a heritage; we have purpose, and we have a personality. At times we may run alongside those of the wider social housing movement, but we are our own thing.  Big isn’t always beautiful, and small, local, connected, responsive, and caring still count for something in this world of “KPI’s”, “metrics” and “positive outcomes”.

So, almshouses continue doing what is right, doing their best for the people who need them.  And we will always do so.

In our 125th year we were honoured to have a row of our bungalows replicated in Beamish Museum, the largest (and best!) open air museum in the UK.  They have been developing a new exhibition which tells the story of social housing in the Durham coalfield, and our homes are a key element in that story. Decades ahead of the Welfare State.  We do what we do, we learn and grow.  But what we preserve is the fundamental core of human decency, which looks at human suffering, comes up with a solution and says, “this is the right thing to do”.

And that’s a very comforting thought to have at this time of year!

Merry Christmas, and may you have a wonderful New Year!


© Durham Aged Mineworkers' Homes 2024
Registered Office Address: The Grove, 168 Front Street. Chester-Le-Street, County Durham, DH3 3AZ