The College of St Barnabas was originally established to provide destitute, elderly and infirm Clergy – and in particular returning missionaries – with an alternative to life in the workhouse or to life on the streets. It was our founder’s response to “for the poor always ye have with you” and a reaction to the hardships he endured after a tough and demanding life as a missionary in Canada, Australia and New Zealand that he felt had left him “a broken man” for whom no practical help was available.
By the closing years of the 19th century, clerical poverty had reached alarming levels. There was no comfort or security in old age, unless you were rich. And although old age pensions were introduced for some early in the last century, it wasn’t until the inauguration of the NHS in 1948 that the majority of people began to benefit from improving health and social care. Everyone was to be cared for “from the cradle to the grave”.
You would be quite justified in asking why it is that more than 120 years since the College was founded and a full “three score years and ten” since the start of the welfare state, that that same old blight of clerical poverty is still with us?
Perhaps you feel that it is really quite incredible that in this day and age, in the fifth richest country on the planet, that there are sick, elderly, frail and vulnerable people who, without the means to do so themselves, cannot ensure that their basic human needs for shelter, warmth, sustenance and care are met. You might also feel it almost unbelievable that in this very position there are Clergy, people who have spent their lives in the service of others, for whom neither the Church nor the State, in this, the 70th anniversary year of the NHS, provide an adequate safety net.
You might even ask why is it, after all this time, that the College of St. Barnabas still exists? Quite simply, our very reason for being is the need among Clergy and other Anglicans that 120 years on is still not being met.
Did you also know that over the coming 10 – 15 years more and more elderly Clergy without adequate means will be going into retirement? Despite all the social change of the past 100 years and more, the College is still having to respond to clerical poverty right here, at home. And we have never been busier.
Every hour of every day we are looking after elderly people who are unable to meet the cost of their care themselves and towards which any contribution that may be received from the State is at best inadequate.
As a charity that receives no financial support whatsoever from the Church or the State, it is a growing challenge for us to meet the increasing number of people without means who are in need of full nursing care. This year we need to raise an additional £110,000 – £120,000 and, as you will have gathered I’m sure, recent changes to the law around data protection have had quite an adverse effect on our ability to attract new supporters.
We are confident that we will, in time and with considerable effort, find new people to help us, but the law changes do mean that it is going to take quite some time to recover the ground that has been lost.
As we do all that we can to identify, approach and recruit new supporters, we ask everyone to be ever-mindful of the gap and to help a little more. You can make a positive difference to the lives of our frailest and most vulnerable residents by helping fill the gap in with a gift to the College of St. Barnabas today.
You can donate through the Donations page on this website – www.st-barnabas.org.uk/how-to-help-us/gift. Would you please use “MTG18” as a reference, either electronically, or written on the back of your cheque?
Please accept, in advance, the thanks and best wishes of the whole College community for your thoughtfulness and generosity.