A History of Guideposts Trust

2022 is the 50th anniversary of Guideposts. To mark this special anniversary, we’d like to share the story of our charity: where we started from, the journey we have travelled so far, and a vision for the future of Guideposts Trust.

Although the way we deliver our work has changed over the years, the ethos and values remain the same: helping people build on their strengths, maintain their independence, achieve their aspirations, develop supportive connections and avert isolation and loneliness.

1. How It All Began

It all started when Raymond Cripps, a journalist and publisher for a small weekly newspaper in Witney, Oxfordshire, came across a story that intrigued him: three young men from Germany had travelled to Coventry to help rebuild the crypt in the Cathedral that their fathers had destroyed in WWII. Raymond hoped to write the story for his newspaper and thus went to Coventry to meet with them.

Raymond wanted this account of ‘compassion in action’ to get the readership it deserved. He had heard of a publication in America called Guideposts, which specialised in such stories. His article was published and he received a cheque and a subscription to the magazine. The magazine contained stories about people finding faith and using faith to help them through life’s challenges and problems. Raymond began to wonder if the possibility of a British Guideposts magazine would be viable.

In summer 1965, Raymond shared his aspirations with Cliff Upex a local printer, and with the support of Guideposts USA, the magazine went into production. The Guideposts UK publications were unique. They were multi-faith, encouraged people to set aside their differences, to share their humanity and unite as one community. The ethos of inclusion and setting aside ones preconceptions formed the foundations on which our charity still runs today.

The magazine built a strong readership and received a number of letters every week pointing to the needs and problems people had.

One need that began to stand out, above all others was the need for community housing and care for people who were being unnecessarily confined to psychiatric hospitals and hospitals for those with learning disabilities. Cliff decided to investigate further and discovered that there were hundreds of people who could be discharged from hospital if such accommodations existed.

Vision for Change: Becoming Guideposts Trust

Although the 1959 Care Act advocated care in the community, no such support provision existed yes in 1965. Over the coming years, Cliff Upex embarked on a mission to open conversations and the minds of healthcare professionals and MPs. Many opinions were shared but little support for the community housing concept was found. Cliff was determined that something needed to be done to address the vast numbers of people being held in hospital unnecessarily.

So, in 1972, he formed Guideposts Trust to help change this. The charity had a big vision, but sadly no money. Most of the work until that point had been done by Cliff on an entirely voluntary basis.

Around this time, Rev. Peale, founder of Guideposts USA (magazine) visited with his wife. They discussed the progress of the magazine with Raymond and Cliff, who shared the concept of supported housing for people trapped in hospital. They discussed how, as a British charity, they could raise funds for this but had no money to help the idea start and move forward.

Rev Peale immediately asked how much they needed to get started. However, at this point, the concept had not been fully costed and Cliff and Raymond could only give him a very rough figure. Rev Peale promised to send a cheque when he got home, which he did.

The figure proved to be far too small. However, it gave Cliff all the motivation he needed to commit more of his time to the charity.

Continue the story…. Chapter 2

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