The Harpenden Trust

It's origins and continuing relevance

Harpenden Trust Centre, 90 Southdown Road – built as St John’s Hall in c.1900. Credit: R. Ross, 2011

Formation and Incorporation

The Harpenden Trust (“the Trust”) was founded in 1948, coinciding with the creation of the National Health Service. Despite the introduction of the “cradle to grave” welfare state, some residents in Harpenden at the time felt that there would always be a need to take care of people who fell through the net. It was this group that formed the original Harpenden Trust.

Today the activities of the Trust are managed though a Company, limited by Guarantee, which was incorporated on 29th September 2006 with registration number 5951591. It is governed like all companies by its Memorandum and Articles of Association. On 1st June 2007 the assets of the Harpenden Trust, Charity Number 212973 (the “Former Trust”), were transferred to the Company and the Former Trust ceased to exist. Those assets now constitute the Care Fund. On 17th April 2008 the Abbeyfield {Harpenden) Society Limited transferred all it s assets to the Trust and these assets now constitute the Community Fund.

Strategic Direction

The Trust has four charitable purposes, as formally set out within the Company’s Memorandum and Articles of Association:

  • the promotion of volunteering in the community of Harpenden;
  • the promotion of civic responsibility and good citizenship amongst the youth of Harpenden;
  • the relief of residents of Harpenden either individually or collectively who are in need by reason of their youth, age, ill-health, disability, financial hardship or other social and economic disadvantage by:
  • the provision of grants of money;
    the provision of items;
    the payment for, and/or provision of services;
    other such means as will address their needs; and
  • to promote for the benefit of the residents of Harpenden the provision of facilities for recreation or other leisure-time occupation of individuals who have the need for such facilities by reason of their youth, age, ill-health, disability, financial hardship or social and economic circumstances or for the public at large in the interests of social welfare and with the object of improving the life of the said residents .

The Board has resolved that all references to “Harpenden” mean the postal district of Harpenden and its immediate surroundings.

Supporting the Community

The story of the Harpenden Trust has for over 70 years been one of good neighbourliness. Harpenden as a town has, within its community, both the needy and the well off. “One could help the other” was at the heart of our founding principles, and “Funded by Harpenden people, managed by Harpenden people to benefit Harpenden people” continues to be our mantra.

The Coronavirus Pandemic

Richard Nichols, Chairman of the Harpenden Trust. Credit: R. Ross, January 2021

Although this Directors’ Report covers the twelve-month period from 1 April 2019 to 31 March 2020, it almost goes without saying that it is the final month that has had the most dramatic impact on Harpenden and the Trust’s activities. The outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic has created an unprecedented and uncertain environment for all communities and had an immediate impact on the lives of many vulnerable individuals locally. The 70-year history of the Harpenden Trust has centred around our ability to step up to the plate swiftly and support our local community when it has needed us most – and this we did in 2020, delivering immediate support across our community.

As part of the Harpenden Cares initiative, we substantially scaled-up our Care Fund operations, in particular establishing a fully staffed call-centre based at our main Southdown Halls to act as the ‘Harpenden Cares Contact Centre’. This Contact Centre has provided the necessary link between requests for assistance and the resources available to meet those requests.

Within a matter of a few days in early March 2020 we had transformed the original single telephone line into the Trust offices into a fully operational 12 line call centre with a newly installed VOiP system, combining a 24 hour answering service capability and all linked to the original Harpenden Trust telephone number – 01582 460457. A newly recruited team of more than 20 Call Handlers, all local volunteers, stepped forward to handle the calls received between 10am and 2pm each weekday (including all Bank Holidays), ensuring all callers received an immediate warm and empathetic response. Over the initial 8 weeks, we became the voice of Harpenden Cares, handling a huge variety of requests. At the outset we were answering between 150 and 170 calls per week. The majority of calls related to assisted shopping and prescription/medication pickup, although in reality there was rarely such a thing as a “standard call”. Over time, the Foodbank began to operate on a regular delivery schedule sometimes weekly but often fortnightly, reducing the overall volume of calls.

There was an ever-rising demand for our Befriending activities, with now currently over 40 members. We were also asked by the St Albans, Harpenden and Redbourn GP Federation to take on delivering and collecting back oxygen saturation monitors between the established Halley Stewart hub and patients’ homes.

We have developed our internal Charity Log system to be accessible to our Harpenden Cares partners. This has allowed us to send requests for assistance directly from Charity Log to our partners, including for a Foodbank operated by The Salvation Army; for a shopping service coordinated by Bethany Church and for medical needs which mainly involves collecting and delivering prescriptions.

Our expanded Care Fund operations have accessed our extensive existing Harpenden Trust volunteer network. This is in addition to our regular office volunteers. Home visits have been operating via telephone consultations and we have been able to provide a shopping service for clients who are self-isolated. For our regular clients (from Christmas parcels, utilities and outings) we have been giving them a friendly call to check on their well-being.

We have an incredible team of volunteers who have enabled us to scale-up our operations in this way in record time, and to whom we offer our huge thanks. Thanks are also due to our partners across the Harpenden Cares network, as it has been a direct result of all the tremendous teamwork that has enabled us to answer well over 1,000 calls to the Contact Centre and meet all the requests for assistance we have received so far. This was a truly wonderful achievement – all enabled by some amazing individuals – and the Directors could not be more proud of everything the Harpenden Trust and its volunteers have all achieved in this period. The directors each offer a simple but sincere “Thank You” to all who have played their part.


Ed Note:

Since this report was written, the Harpenden Trust has worked in partnership with the Harpenden GPs and Harpenden Town Council to establish the Harpenden Vaccination Centre in the Public Halls – opened on 13 January 2021. Over 700 local citizens volunteered to help as marshalls and assistants, enabling a very smooth vaccination service to grateful Harpenden people – initially the frail and elderly.

Harpenden Vaccination Centre at the Public Halls. Credit: R. Ross, 15 January 2021

Richard Nichols clearing snow from the notice board. Credit: R. Ross, 25 January 2021

View into the foyer, where Harpenden Trust volunteers checked temperatures, and escorted patients into the main hall. Credit: R. Ross, 25 January 2021

The main hall, viewed from the projection room. Credit: R. Ross, 25 January 2021

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