Our partner Housing Association: Origin Housing

The welfare work with housing tenants we are involved in started in 1924. In that year the pioneering St Pancras House Improvement Society Ltd was founded by the charismatic clergyman Father Basil Jellicoe. His aim was to try to improve the life of people living in dreadful slum conditions in Somers Town in London and also in parts of Kentish Town. He and other members sought to show that even the worst housing could be replaced and the poorest tenants rehoused in high quality low cost housing. They were determined to prove that slum clearance could be achieved as a practical proposition by setting up a housing company and giving a dividend on money invested in shares.

Its effective publicity reached across the country and soon attracted a very large number of supporters as shareholders  including many well know society figures like the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VIII), H.G.Wells, J.B.Priestley, Stanley Unwin, F.F.Faber and Lady Diana Methuen. Major financial institutions of the time were also persuaded to be generous subscribers including, Rothschilds, Royal Exchange Assurance, Barings, Sun Assurance, Legal & General and London Assurance.  Carreras, who employed many Somers Town workers in its local cigarette factory, was also persuaded to invest £5,000.

Over the years the housing association took over several other housing associations, and by the turn of the millenium was called St Pancras & Humanist Housing Association Limited (sometimes known as SPH Housing).  It became part of Origin Housing Group, but in 2009 when the Association decided to collapse the group structure, St Pancras & Humanist Housing Association Limited changed its name to Origin Housing Limited.

 

SPH Friends

It was realised that just providing housing was not enough, and therefore many other efforts were made to improve the conditions of the local people. Community problems were tackled by establishing a nursery school, a loan club to help eliminate existing debts, a low cost furnishing company, providing holidays in the country, running community centres and improving and managing two public houses that would be suitable for local people to meet and entertain in comfort.


Eventually, in 1975, it was proposed that the Friends of St Pancras Housing, or "SPH Friends", should be set up as a separate charitable trust. The Friends would be responsible for the welfare and social work of the housing association with tenants and the community and would be responsible for distributing funds to those in need. It was registered as a charity by the Charity Commission in 1976.

 

Friends of Origin Housing

As the housing association is now known as Origin Housing, SPH Friends was renamed Friends of Origin Housing in 2021 in order to align with this.  It continues to provide grant funding to Origin Housing tenants for essential household items necessary to enable them to stay in their homes. We work closely with the staff of Origin Housing to identify and help those in dire need and provide a speedy solution to the problems some tenants face.

In the past, our funding has mainly been through donations from those associated with the housing association but we are currently engaged in fundraising so that we can continue to help those tenants in need.