The Good Charity Bad Charity podcast recently interviewed Mike Wilson, Pembroke House’s Executive Director. He spoke about Pembroke House’s history as a settlement and how this informs our vision for the future. Find out more below, and listen to the podcast here.
Pembroke House was founded 135 years ago, part of a wave of settlement houses that began in the East End and swept first across London, then the rest of the country, before growing into an international movement.
The settlement founders were shocked by rising poverty and inequality, and saw that existing solutions were struggling to make an impact.
Their response was brilliantly simple: they settled in areas marked by deprivation, living alongside existing residents and working together to find local solutions to inequality.
As Mike outlined on the podcast, Pembroke House – inspired by this legacy – is once again looking for new solutions to the challenges of poverty and inequality that confront Walworth today.
In his interview, Mike described some of the principles that underpin this new settlement approach for the 21st century:
Working together across traditional boundaries
No single organisation or individual has all the answers, while existing models of state, market and charity won’t be effective on their own.
Through uniting around a common enemy and a shared vision during the Covid crisis, organisations in Walworth have achieved more together ‘in the last five months than we did in the last five years’.
New models of activity
Since March, Pembroke House has been running an emergency food bank. While essential in a crisis, we want to move away from this transactional approach to a new, more collaborative model, where food is used to bring people together as equals, where new connections and relationships are formed, and where everyone has opportunities to learn and opportunities to contribute.
Finally, Mike described how ‘the key thing about settlement life is that it’s lived.’ Being present and taking part in shared activity is at the heart of the settlement approach. This is why, to this day, a Residency – home to six members of our team – sits next door to Pembroke House.
You can listen to the full interview here, or by viewing the video below.