"A scheme to bring lonely people together, in an ordinary house, in an ordinary street, getting support and creating an atmosphere of companionship from neighbours and family; returning to the community rather than moving away from it."

Richard Carr-Gomm

This was Richard Carr-Gomm’s vision and mission when he started The Abbeyfield Society and continues to be the foundation for all the work we do to help alleviate loneliness; with our residents at the heart of everything we do.

Homely and friendly houses that have established great links within their community, making time for our residents, and enhancing their lives by bringing everyone together remain at the core of what we stand for today.

Our beginnings

Richard Carr-Gomm served in The Royal Berkshire Regiment and Coldstream Guards for 16 years before resigning and volunteering as Britain’s first male home help. In his work, he found that the needs of people he was looking after were not material, but that they were often lonely.

Often the only person to visit them, he wanted to provide them with support and security. Using part of his Army gratuity, he bought his first house in 1955, located in Bermondsey, East London and invited his first residents from the local community, Miss Saunders and Mr Halnan, to live with him.

Thanks to the positive response from the first house, he used the rest of his gratuity money to buy a second house and as word spread and Richard began to receive donations from the public, he bought more houses and formally set up The Abbeyfield Society in 1956.

By 1963, The Abbeyfield Society had over 100 homes across the UK with societies in eight London boroughs and 15 other cities throughout the country.

How Richard’s legacy lives on

Today The Abbeyfield Society has over 400 houses in seven countries, including Australia, Belgium, Canada, Jersey, South Africa and New Zealand, providing a supportive community to over 7,500 residents. From Richard’s kindness, generosity and goodwill, he has helped to change the lives of thousands of people.

His idea of providing houses for residents to make friends, eat together, take part in activities, and to continue feeling part of the community are the same ideals you’ll find in our houses today.

If only we could have an Abbeyfield house on every street to which everyone could come… then everyone would be treated the same and share equally the kindness of the community around them.

Richard Carr-Gomm

Find out more about Abbeyfield

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About us

Abbeyfield are a charity for older people, providing housing across the UK and internationally. Find out more about Abbeyfield.

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Frequently asked questions

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about retirement living and housing options for older people.

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Resident stories

Read some of the real stories of Abbeyfield residents, volunteers and staff.