The Vintners' Foundation
Charity and education have always been principal elements in the role of the guilds and Livery Companies. One of the first charitable tasks undertaken by the early guilds was the care of their members in sickness and old age. By the early fifteenth century, the Vintners’ Company had established “thirteen little mansions” on the site of the Hall, to be let to poor and needy men of the trade.
These were destroyed in the Great Fire of 1666 and subsequently rebuilt at Mile End where they were maintained until they too were destroyed during the Blitz in 1941. After the war, new homes were built at Nutley in Sussex.
In 1997 Nutley was sold and the funds raised were used to build bungalows at The Benevolent’s ‘Vintry Homes’ site at Eastbourne. This was sold off by The Benevolent in 2013. So ended nearly 600 years of Vintner involvement in almshouses.
The Vintners’ Company has for many years made grants to registered charities petitioning for its support, and the sale of the ‘Vintry’ site in 2013 coincided with a major re-focus of the Company’s charitable objectives. The Company took the decision to move away from its former strategy for grant-giving of supporting charities purely concerned with the abuse of alcohol. The focus is now more strongly on charities dealing with the social consequences of alcohol abuse – a subtle but important distinction, which embraces the families and dependants of abusers, as well as education to prevent youngsters from falling into the trap of alcohol misuse in the first place.
The beneficial area of the Company’s grant giving nevertheless remains Greater London and preferably Inner London. The Company does not support medical research or the maintenance or restoration of buildings. It does not normally respond favourably to petitions in support of independent education. These restrictions have been in place for many years, to increase the impact of those grants which the Company is able to afford.
The Company also now seeks to support fewer charities but to a greater extent, with larger grants and over a longer period of time, i.e. two or three years or more. This allows continuity – something which is especially important to smaller charities as they make their long-term plans. We tend to look more favourably on smaller, local charities, which often struggle to find support, rather than on those which are larger, well-known, nationally focused and therefore generally better supported.
Additionally, the charities selected will be able to offer opportunities for members of the Vintners’ Company to become involved and assist as part-time volunteers. This can be anything from providing general assistance to being a trustee. On occasion, a member of the Company may be able to provide expert assistance in a specialist field. However, this cannot be guaranteed and should not be expected.
More details of the current selected charities may be found in the ‘GRANTS & SUPPORT’ section.
In addition to this change of grant-giving strategy, the Company continues to support the wine trade and also some 20 regular causes and charities ranging across education, the Church, the Services, swans, and the City, together with members’ own requests.
We also continue to run one-off charitable fundraising events. The Beaune Walk in June 2013 raised £50,000 for The Benevolent. The Walk on the South Downs in May 2015 raised £8,000 for the Vintners’ Foundation. The “City to Surf” cycle ride (300 miles over 3 days) in June 2015, from Vintners’ Hall to Newquay, raised over £55,000 for the Vintners’ Foundation and the Lord Mayor’s Appeal.
The Company has had a long standing historical connection with certain schools in the East End of London, largely due to an 18th Century Vintner benefactor called Benjamin Kenton. One of these schools is the Stepney Greencoat School – https://www.stepneygreencoat.towerhamlets.sch.uk/history/benjamin-kenton
Kenton Day is still celebrated each year in October, involving pupils from both the Greencoat and nearby Redcoat Schools.
The Vintners' Foundation
The Company’s principal charitable vehicle is the Vintners’ Foundation, which services the Company’s current policy for charitable giving. This is:
- Assistance to charities concerned with the relief of the poor, destitute and homeless in Greater London who are disadvantaged by reasons of health, education or poverty
- Assistance to charities concerned with treating the social effects of alcohol abuse or misuse
- Support to young people, youth projects and designated educational establishments in London
- Support to certain other charities, as put forward by members of the Company.
Income to the Vintners’ Foundation is derived from three principal sources:
- Capital funding from the Company
- Investment income
- Members’ donations
The Vintners’ Foundation incorporates two older trusts: Vintners’ Gifts Charity and the Vintners’ Company Charitable Foundation (VCCF). While the VCCF has been entirely subsumed into the Vintners’ Foundation, the objective of the Vintners’ Gifts Charity remains the relief of persons in need in the following order of priority:
- Members of the Vintners’ Company and their dependants
- Persons now or formerly engaged in the wine trade/spirits trade and their dependants
- Such other persons in need of assistance as the Company shall in its absolute discretion think fit.
Members of the Company are expected to give regularly to the Vintners’ Foundation.
In 2017 the Vintners’ Foundation Committee compiled a review of its activities. Click the image below to read and download a copy of that review, titled ‘Making a Difference’.