The Littleport Town Lands Charity is a name that may not be known to many in the village but it does a great deal behind the scenes to support the elderly of Littleport and has been for almost 140 years.

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The charity, in its current format, was established on November 12, 1875, but there are records held in the Cambridgeshire county records office dating back to 1571.

The charity was set up to provide almshouses – accommodation typically provided to elderly people who can no longer work or earn enough to pay rent.

Today, the charity own 27 properties in four locations around Littleport. To qualify for an almshouse, the applicant must have reached the age of 60 years and been resident in the parish for a minimum of six years.

Since the charity was first established, a lot of has changed. Occupants of almshouses, for example, no longer have to “attend divine service unless prevented by illness at least once on every lord’s day”.

Almshouse application forms can still be obtained from Littleport Parish Council offices in The Barn.

The library building is part of the charity’s estate and was enlarged in 1998 when the parish council moved to The Barn. The charity has 12 trustees who meet four times a year and a clerk for day-to-day administration.

Income is gained from renting the 187 acres of land owned by the charity and also rent from the library. Many people from the village benefit from schemes supported by the charity including the local community warden scheme, library reading schemes, educational grants and occasional one-off grants for social and health needs referred by relevant agencies.

But it is not only the elderly who have benefited. School children in Littleport have been helped over the years by the educational foundation attached to the charity.

Both of Littleport’s primary schools benefit from an annual grant to assist with school trips and Littleport residents up to the age of 25 can qualify for small grants for sixth form, apprenticeships and help with university.

Application forms are available at The Barn and applications are considered at the October meeting of the trustees.

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