Greenwich charity offers homes for refugees fleeing war in Ukraine

Frobisher Street
The charity owns many houses in east Greenwich (picture: Clive Lambert)

A 400-year-old Greenwich charity is offering homes for refugees who have fled the war in Ukraine.

The William Hatcliffe Estate Charity, which was founded by the keeper of King James I’s horses in 1622, owns 130 homes in east Greenwich. It is offering two houses to families who have escaped from the country following the Russian invasion.

Its chair, Andrew Blundy, said: “Our trustees were keen to offer practical help to refugees, who are victims of the worst conflict in Europe since 1945.

Whilst the government’s spare bedroom scheme is fine so far as it goes, we did not think it addressed the needs of families from Ukraine who are seeking a new life in the United Kingdom, whether temporarily or permanently”.

“We have made our offer to both Greenwich Council and to our mmber of parliament, Matthew Pennycook, and we hope that they will identify Ukrainian families who will benefit from this offer of accommodation, which will be for an initial period of six months.

“We hope that the refugees will be welcomed and supported by the local community in east Greenwich and throughout the borough. Our trustees see a huge desire to welcome refugees and feel that we ought to use our resources to help them.”

Blundy said the houses will be refurbished to a high standard and, with help from other local charities, will be made available fully furnished.

The charity uses income from property left to it by Hatcliffe to provide almshouses and grants for local people in need. Hatcliffe’s legacy is recognised on a board at St Alfege’s Church in Greenwich. There are four Hatcliffe trusts, operating in both Greenwich and Lewisham, and they plan to double their almshouse accommodation in the next five years.

Since Vladimir Putin launched his attack in Ukraine on February 24, the most high-profile relief effort locally has been undertaken by the Lewisham Polish Centre, which has been sending goods to volunteers at refugee centres in south-east Poland.

The centre, in Forest Hill, has been so overwhelmed by donations, it has asked people to stop giving items and instead give money which can be used to buy items cheaply in Poland that can be given to refugees when they cross the border.

The appeal, which has so far raised over £86,000, can be found at

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