Report of General Monthly Meeting - Tuesday 9th April 2019

St John’s Hand in Hand – talk presented by Clive Cook


St John’s Winchester Charity was formerly known as St John’s Hospital and is thought to be the oldest charitable foundation in the country. While it is now thought unlikely that it was founded by St Bristan, Bishop of Winchester, in the 10th century, it was certainly in operation by the 1100s. Records of St John’s, which are in the city archives, date back to 1200 and show that in 1289 St John’s was providing for the poor and needy in Winchester. While there have been many changes during the intervening years, the charity currently has 79 units of accommodation on four sites in Winchester, namely, St John’s North and South in the Broadway, St Mary Magdalene Almshouses in Colebrook Street and Christ’s Hospital in Symonds Street.

But today, Clive Cook, Chief Executive St John’s and director of the new project, was able to tell us about a new initiative at St John’s. The community-based initiative is called St John’s Hand in Hand which aims to help older people and to relieve their possible social isolation and loneliness. It seeks to improve the quality of life and well-being by providing a helping hand based on the charity’s caring principles and values. Through the project, older people are connected with others, and new friendships are encouraged. Individuals are referred by their GPs to the project, and are then visited by volunteers who ‘befriend’ them. So far – and the project only began at the end of 2018 – 40 referrals have been made, and have been befriended by 22 volunteers. St John’s is also hoping to start a club where older people can make new friends, although it is recognised that some may always need visiting in their own homes.

St John’s is very keen to recruit more volunteers, and anyone being interested in helping should contact All volunteers will be provided with detailed training and will be supported in their work by the two full-time well-being co-ordinators on the project.


Julia Whitburn