The fascinating story of Origin Housing

A new series looking at community-minded Euston businesses

Origin is a housing association with a difference: they offer care and support services to people who are vulnerable – whether that’s from learning disabilities, old age or other issues.

This extremely worthwhile project started life a century ago in 1924 as the St Pancras House Improvement Society, a charitable organisation founded by one Father Basil Jellicoe.

We spoke to Origin’s Julie Humphreys to find out more about the philanthropic priest, in whose honour a blue plaque was unveiled on Drummond Street in 2014.

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Who exactly was Father Jellicoe? Basil Jellicoe was born in Chailey, Sussex, in 1899, the son of an ordained priest. He became Missioner at the Magdalen Mission at St Mary’s Church in Somers Town in 1921. He was quickly horrified at the living conditions in its slums, where residents faced terrible poverty and overcrowding. He saw that the problem required major change, and was unsatisfied by the Mission’s policy, which involved sending children away to the country – only for them to return to a home stricken by damp, disease and poor air quality.

Father Jellicoe and friend. Photo: Origin
So what did he do? In 1924, Jellicoe met with three people: Father Percy Maryon-Wilson, Edith Neville and Nora Hill, who were also involved in social work in the area. The group decided to set up a society to improve housing in the neighbourhood and beyond.

Father Jellicoe’s community and welfare approach to housing was unique at the time, and through nationwide fundraising tours in his small car (and selling loan stock to fund his projects) – as well as his connections to the Oxford College network – he managed to promote and raise money for the St Pancras House Improvement Society. He subsequently became founder of other housing associations in London, Sussex and Cornwall.

St Pancras Improvement Society building and car. Photo: Origin
Fast forward to 2019: talk us through the current organisation? Thanks to a subsequent series of mergers with other organisations – the Humanist Housing Association, Griffin Homes, and Lee Housing Association – we now work in fourteen areas across North London and Hertfordshire and have become Origin Housing. We’re a registered social landlord, managing over 6,500 homes. And best of all, we maintain Father Jellicoe’s belief that good quality affordable housing is a foundation for a successful life.

Finally, what’s great about being based in Euston?  The best thing about working here is that we are right in the heart of our community.

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Info:, St Richards House, 110 Eversholt St, NW1

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