In 2000, Aston-Mansfield was created by the merger of two charities – Aston Charities Trust and The Mansfield Settlement – who had been working in east London since the late 19th century. The ethos of Aston-Mansfield’s work has always been about its buildings; the community anchors for local people, open to all.
Some of the services that we provided over 100 years ago are not so different to those we deliver today. The Busby Scouts group started in the original Durning Hall in 1908 and meet weekly to this day. With many regular clubs and groups, Durning Hall became a place where few people locally could remember a time when it had not been part of their lives. Mansfield House, in Plaistow, provided free legal help, soon being nicknamed ‘The Poor Man’s Lawyer’. As the first service of its kind, it inspired similar initiatives and was a forerunner of the modern Citizens Advice Bureau, who continue to run weekly advice sessions from our two centres, Durning Hall and The Froud Centre.
The Mansfield Settlement was fairly progressive for its time, breaking the mould from traditional philanthropy. By Oxford university graduates moving to east London and settling, they created an interactive process, aimed at bridging the gap between the rich and the poor, and centred on empowering those in need to lead a fuller life. This empowerment still exists at Aston-Mansfield today, where we offer affordable space at both our community centres, to a range of community groups and local people.
We help create the space, connections and developmental experiences to enable local people to thrive and flourish.