The trustees of eight almshouses in the town have issued an appeal to the residents of Crewkerne and District to remember the local charity in their wills and fund-raising activities. Despairing calls from elderly people who face the prospect of having to leave their rented homes, due to heart-breaking circumstances such as the death of a partner, are on the increase. Sadly, when they turn to the trustees of the Matthew Chubb Almshouses Charity, they are being told: “Sorry, we just cannot help you at the moment.” The charity which looks after four almshouses in Court Barton, built in 1604 by Matthew Chubb and his wife Margaret, and another four almshouses in West Street built in the 1800’s, wishes to buy more houses to provide urgently needed homes and shelter for elderly people, who have nowhere else to live. Residents in the eight almshouses in Crewkerne, pay a monthly contribution towards the maintenance costs, while the charity covers the the main costs for maintenance at its properties. Apart from an honarium paid to the warden and clerk to the trustees to cover expenses, the trustees are not paid and do not receive expenses.
Tony Foot, chairman of the trustees said: “We give our time for the benefit of the residents and every penny that is given to us, is used directly to support the work of the charity.” In the past 12 months, a lot of work has been carried out on the properties in Court Barton, to put right long standing damp issues. The stonework to both gable ends has been renovated and the inside ground floor of one property has been lined with a damp proof membrane. Together with other routine maintenance at the almshouses, this has cost more than £34,000. Teresa Bond, clerk to the trustees said: “In the past the charity has been given endowments which were invested and used for maintenance but those investments have dwindled and endowments have not been made for many years. We hear some terrible stories and it breaks our hearts when we get a call from someone who is under the threat of being made homeless. We have to tell them that all our properties are occupied and that there’s a waiting list of people, who would like to become almshouses residents.”
The Matthew Chubb Almshouses Charity has ‘slipped beneath the radar’ when it comes to making bequests or donations. Tony Foot said: “It is a serious situation and a shame that the trustees are not in a position to do more for elderly people who are in need of a home.” The trustees are hoping that ‘where there’s a will, there’s a way’ and that their urgent charity plea for bequests and donations, will not go unheard.