Peabody, one of London's largest housing associations and community regeneration agencies, celebrates its 150th anniversary today.
Established by London banker George Peabody to "ameliorate the condition of the poor and needy" in the capital, Peabody dates its inception from an article in The Times, published on 26 March 1862, which announced his £150,000 founding donation – "an act of beneficence unexampled in its largeness… which will for ever place his name among the chief benefactors of this capital.”
Before his death in 1869, Peabody increased this gift to £500,000, equivalent to several hundred million pounds in today’s money.
Stephen Howlett, Peabody Chief Executive, said:
“Many hundreds of thousands of Londoners have benefited from George Peabody's extraordinary gift, a gift which keeps on giving. 150 years on, his beliefs are still at the heart of all we do. Our aim is to make London a city of opportunity for all by ensuring as many people as possible have a good home, a real sense of purpose and a strong feeling of belonging."
"Much has changed since George Peabody's day, but many of the challenges for London remain the same. Peabody was established to tackle one housing crisis – that of Victorian London's inner-city poor – and today we face another.
"There is just not enough low cost housing being provided to meet the needs of local people and the benefits changes mean that many will no longer be able to afford to live in their own city. This will have serious implications for London’s social and economic well-being. Our focus will always be on helping people and communities to flourish in London.”
George was an American who adopted London as his home. Quickly, his new organisation began to build the signature Peabody estates that can still be found in the heart of London to this day, pioneering social housing as we know now it. By 1879, it had built an extraordinary 2,355 homes.
Today Peabody owns and manages more than 20,000 homes on 219 estates, with 55,000 residents, 99% of whom live within six miles of Smithfield Market.
Peabody also provides one of the most far-reaching community regeneration programmes of any housing association, investing around £3m a year to improve access to employment, training and opportunities that have a positive impact on people’s lives.
- In the last 15 years Peabody has helped more than 15,000 people to achieve qualifications and almost 4,000 into work
- In the last five years, over 50,000 people have benefited from Peabody's flagship well-being programme Activate London, funded by the Big Lottery
- Since 2007, more than 700 volunteers have taken part in Peabody’s community projects; Peabody currently has 250 volunteers and recently became the first housing association to achieve the Investing in Volunteers Quality Standard, recognising the excellent work it does with volunteers.
Peabody is celebrating its 150th milestone with a year of activities, with events planned across its estates and at the Royal Albert Hall. A non-denominational service will also be held at Westminster Abbey on Thursday 29 March, where a plaque commemorates George Peabody's temporary burial before his remains were returned to his hometown in the United States.
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