New almshouses to open for pensioners in need

Kebir Berry, John Rockett and Eric Jackson of the Pontefract and Ackworth Almshouse Charity. Pic below by Wakefield Libraries.
Kebir Berry, John Rockett and Eric Jackson of the Pontefract and Ackworth Almshouse Charity. Pic below by Wakefield Libraries.

Two new almshouses will open in Pontefract at the start of April.

The self-contained homes are the first to be built by the Pontefract and Ackworth Almshouse Charity in thirty years.

ACKWORTH: Church almshouses in the 1940s and 50s.

ACKWORTH: Church almshouses in the 1940s and 50s.

And they will provide accommodation for pensioners suffering hardship or distress.

Charity trustee Eric Jackson said: “There’s a constant demand for our Almshouses and our supply cannot meet the demand. We have always got more applicants than vacancies. People apply to live in our Almshouses for all sorts of reasons.

“They may find themselves in a situation where they currently have a house too large or in need of repairs and they cannot manage. Some feel isolated where they are and want more of a sense of community. For some, it’s financial hardship.

“Or it can be that people want something inbetween an independent living environment such as old people’s bungalows and a care home.”

Mr Jackson said the new Almshouses, at Halfpenny Lane, were designed to be “more disability-friendly” than the current 27 homes maintained by the charity. They will be named the John Mercer Almshouses, in recognition of Mr Mercer who in his will in 1574, bequested money to the charity’s predecessor Trinity Almshouses.

Trustees only recently discovered the money existed and applied to the Charity Commission to release it to fund the new Almshouses, which have cost around £180,000 to construct.

Mr Jackson said: “Clearly John Mercer must have had some relationship to Pontefract, but I have not been able to find the connection.”

The Pontefract and Ackworth Almshouse Charity aims to create a community amongst the residents in its homes.

It has linked care facilities if people need them, arranges talks on things of interest to elderly people and hosts regular events including lunches at its base on Ryder Close and day trips out.

People living in its Almshouses pay a contribution towards the maintenance of the properties, but do not pay rent.