Since day one our mission has been to provide affordable homes in communities that are stable and supportive.
Over the years our estates have seen some incredible demonstrations of community spirit. The Guinness Trust was one of the first to introduce the idea of clubs and ‘landlord’s services’, with many estates running their own cricket, football and swimming teams. Window box competitions were held in the summer, and tenants’ committees would arrange dances and summer day trips.
“Everyone was looking forward to the annual summer outing to Sheerness-on-sea….Each year the residents’ association in the flats organised a summer day out. In previous years we’d been to Margate, Clacton and Southend. They also organised trips to football matches, West End shows, ice shows and pantos…. At nine thirty, six hundred and seventy residents left for the station at Loughborough Junction. A whole train, called the Guinness Trust special, was waiting. I felt so proud that we had a whole train just for us… Everyone was cheering and waving from the windows.“
When World War Two curtailed these activities, others took their place. At Stamford Hill, London, the club room was converted into a centre where the housewives from the estate would make electric batteries and at Fulham Palace Road, London, a medical aid post was established.
This sense of community was demonstrated again at our 90th anniversary in 1980, when 3,000 tenants and staff came together to celebrate at Park Royal Brewery in London.
As well as sports events, arts and crafts exhibitions and a funfair, we held a Glamorous Granny and Beauty Queen contest. The event’s pride of place went to Mrs Lily Musty, who was the clear winner as the tenant with the longest residence, having lived in a Guinness property for eighty years. (Annual Reports and Accounts, 1980)
We have a team of staff across the country, dedicated to providing our customers with all the advice and support they need, including help to maximise income and support with employment and benefits.
Lisse Balster set up her own companion care business following a six-week life coaching programme funded by Guinness.
My name’s Lissie and I’m 34. I’ve lived in Gloucester for about 15 years, been a Guinness resident for around about 8 years.
Can you tell us about the work you do?
My business was started last year and I am a carer; it’s companionship care for the over 65s, so I help the elderly stay independent in their own homes. So I do a range of different things: from simple cleaning to paying bills over the phone, to ordering things off the internet to taking them shopping. Anything really that they’re not feeling confident with or they’re unable to do.
I don’t think I would’ve got to this point, I don’t think I’d have even started my business if it wasn’t for Guinness.
How did Guinness help you start your business?
There was a lady in Gloucester that could give me a ring and have a chat with me, and see if there was any advice that she could give me. So she phoned me and she said, “Oh, well I’ll come out and meet you and we’ll have a chat”. So she came out; her name is Catherine, and she is an angel. I’ve got nothing but high praises to sing about her because she came out, and she said, she had a good chat to me, and she said, “you know, I really think you could do with some confidence building”. So she arranged for me to meet with a chap called Mark, lovely chap. He came out for six weeks and I was able to contact him on the phone if I had any issues, and he really helped me to build up my confidence, helped me see the value in my own skills and he did a couple of quizzes that kind of highlight my best sort of roles. Two of the main roles were managing your own business and care work, and I was like – “Oh, why didn’t I think of this before, this makes sense!”
So I spoke to Catherine after I finished the course and I told her what I’d planned and she said, “Oh okay, let me help you some more”. I was like, “What?” So she put me in touch with some courses about starting my own business, with the tax courses. I wrote my own business plan and went back to her and said, “This is my plan, I’ve got a car, and I’ve got to do some advertising”. But I said, “I can’t quite afford to do advertising at the moment”, I said, “but I’ve got it all ready” and she said, “Well let’s help you with that”. So, they dipped into the fund again, and they helped pay for some advertising for me. So all the way down the line, from the start to the finish, she’s been able to offer me support. And whenever I’ve had a problem, I just wrote her a couple of lines just to get her opinion, and she’s (bam), “Let me help you sort that”. Just brilliant.
Allison, a resident from Milton Keynes, took advantage of the help and support offered by Guinness’s customer support team to clear her debts.
“I really don’t know how I would have got through my financial problems without help from Guinness. I would really recommend that anyone who is struggling with their money gets in touch sooner rather than later to get some help.”
Davide Di Curzio registered on a business course with Guinness’s help and is now setting up his own business.
“I am a fashioner designer and am about to branch out to design scarves to sell. I have always worked for other people and when I lost my job I decided to follow my creative side and set up my own business with a friend. I am very keen on the next course coming up with Guinness as it will touch on business planning, marketing and the financial side of the business.”
We’ve also explored our archives to look over the 130-year history of Guinness. In a new report, Dr Bryce Evans, Senior Lecturer in History at Liverpool Hope University, explores our relationship with food security; from providing canteens in our Victorian buildings to our work helping food banks and setting up food pantries.
Over the last six years, we have awarded 281 of our customers Aspire Awards – helping them get back into work, to move up the career ladder or to gain new skills to help people in their communities.
Karen Stephens is using her Aspire Award to fund her life coaching studies.
“Getting the award has meant so much to me. I was ecstatic at the news. I wouldn’t have been able to afford the training otherwise. Just to be accepted for an Aspire Award has been such a great boost for my self-esteem and confidence.”
Through various projects we’ve been working with our residents to improve the quality and safety of their communities.
In 1996 we funded a project to bring together the estranged estates in Benwell, near Newcastle-upon-Tyne. With little for the local children to do, social problems and vandalism started to increase. To overcome this, we funded the kit for a five-a-side football club, with players from all the Benwell estates. A Friday night club in the community centre also gave the children an opportunity to discuss team tactics, play computer games and just enjoy themselves.
In the 1980s we partnered with the Charterhouse Trust in Didsbury with a vision to provide housing where church members could live alongside people who were on probation, offering them the support and advice they needed to move on with their lives and get back into society. Around the same time we also worked with Carr-Gomm to provide housing and support for small groups of single men and women with learning difficulties.
The Newbold Community Partnership was a new joint venture lead by The Guinness Partnership and involving seven local organisations, including Newbold Sure Start, St Peter’s Church, Madina Masjid & Newbold Islamic Centre and Rochdale Youth Service. Together, we run a series of community events to celebrate the diversity of the neighbourhood and foster stronger connections between people from different backgrounds. Newbold Community Partnership has already been supported by Community First and Near Neighbours, and that funding was matched by The Guinness Partnership.
Ahead of our peers in the 1950s, our staff and trustees were already beginning to see the need for specialist care and support services and housing for older people. Many of our properties were built with this group in mind and in 2005 we launched Guinness Care and Support to specialise in this area.
As well as older people, they offer accommodation and support for people with learning difficulties and young people. Our Sheffield Foyer has 60 beds for young people aged 16–25 with low to medium support needs. Facilities include a unit for young pregnant women and single parents with babies up to the age of six months.
With close links to local colleges, the Foyer offers training programmes aimed at helping residents towards independence in their own home – 200 young people a year achieve this goal.
We’ve worked with Kissing It Better, a charity that promotes and shares good healthcare practice in eight of our care homes. The charity organises programmes where school, college and university students visit local care homes to bring laughter, care and friendship. This has proven to be particularly helpful for older people with dementia. “The young people bring their own special talents to every project,” says Susan Walls of Kissing it Better.
“It’s amazing to watch as young people come through the door, armed with talent, energy and enthusiasm. Our programmes help communities show how much they care about their older people.”
Guinness customers enjoyed a wide range of projects, from pampering, poetry and music sessions, to visits from unusual animals like bearded dragons and giant bunny rabbits.
Our Creative Times project, formerly known as the Festival of Creativity, brought customers and staff together across the country to give them the opportunity to participate in different forms of creativity.
There are many personal stories to come out of the project. One customer is now attending an arts course at a local arts centre. Another has renewed confidence and gone on to teach art to other people in the community. Peggy Smith, a customer from Jack Simpson House, became the Resident Poet, featuring in a piece for BBC television news.
The Festival of Creativity is huge; it’s vast – what we see here today in the exhibition space and the activities room and the festival weekend based in Devon is the main focus of the Festival of Creativity.
But actually it’s been a national project so we’ve been encouraging people all over the country, in all of our different services to get active, get creative, have a go and see what happens.
Well the Festival of Creativity is bringing together customers and their artistic skills with our volunteers, and of course with our staff, to produce an exhibition which really demonstrates what people can do rather than what people can’t do. And often for the older people we house and care for it’s a problem for them not being able to do things. This project is all about inspiring people and showing them what they can do and there’s a fantastic array of artworks to be seen here today.