To free a pilgrim: charity liberates elderly people from hardships

Dave HallByDave Hall

To free a pilgrim: charity liberates elderly people from hardships

A charity formed in the same year the slave trade was abolished, continues to help elderly people face life with practical and spiritual support.

The Pilgrims’ Friend Society, formed in 1807, maintains life can still be pretty harsh for those advancing in years.

In former days, the charity raised funds to them with practical gifts such as groceries, warm blankets and coal which, along with Christian encouragement. With housing conditions dire, it built its first housing scheme in 1835. Today it has housing and residential care homes in many different parts of the country.

‘Circumstances may have changed but many needs remain the same,’ says Carl Knightly, the charity’s director of engagement. ‘We still provide practical support for older people, enabling them to live the fulfilled lives that God intends. Those who know our housing and care homes comment on their Christian ethos and loving attitude. One relative said, “It is not superficial, it is the authentic thing”.’

The charity will share its extensive knowledge of the elderly, and ways of engaging them, with visitors at CRE 2018.

One church leader told the charity: ‘Issues of old age are matters which will increasingly grow in significance and having an opportunity to explore and think through core issues is a very valuable exercise.’

The Pilgrims’ Friend Society is a founding member of the Faith in Later Life organisation which, together with four other charities including the Salvation Army, provides resources for churches and a directory of activities for older people.

‘We follow the examples of our Christian predecessors in cherishing the elderly, treating them as treasured human beings made in the image of God and capable of continuing their spiritual growth even as their body or mind may fail them,’ said Carl.

• Louise Morse of the Pilgrims’ Friend Society will speak on ‘Empowering and enabling seniors’ at CRE 2018 (11am, Tue 16 Oct). More here

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Dave Hall

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