The Attlee Foundation was established with support from across the political spectrum in 1967 with the aim of benefitting people disadvantaged by poverty or lack of opportunity. In adhering to his vision of a more fair and equal society, it is the hope of the Foundation to commemorate the life and achievements of Clement Attlee by undertaking projects befitting of his values.
Clement Attlee KG, PC, OM, CH was born in Putney, 1883. He was educated at Haileybury and University College, Oxford where following in his father’s footsteps he became a lawyer in 1906. In his spare time he volunteered at a boy’s club in Stepney in the East End of London, later becoming manager of the club at Haileybury House. It was through this work that he developed an interest in the social problems affecting communities and young people in the deprived East End of London. He supplemented his income by becoming a tutor at the London School of Economics in 1913, however the following year saw him join the British Army where he served in Gallipoli and Mesopotamia. After a short recovery period in England, he was sent to France in 1918 to serve for the last few months of the war.
He returned to the East End of London and became involved in politics, initially as the new mayor of Stepney in 1919. A few years later he met his future wife, Violet Millar whom he married in January 1922; they had four children together. In the same year, Clement Attlee was elected as MP for Stepney, and after changes in political party leadership, he was appointed as the Deputy Leader of the Labour party under George Lansbury in the 1931 General Election.
Before becoming Prime Minister, Attlee became a youth/community worker in the Spitalfields area of London’s East End, where today the Foundation and its youth and community are based. This experience completely changed Attlee’s outlook on life. In his subsequent work as a Member of Parliament and Prime Minister, Attlee sought to get at the root of social problems and so change the outcomes in people’s lives. He believed that better access to opportunities for young people and others for disadvantaged communities would enable people to reach their full potential.
In July 1945, following the Labour Party landslide victory at the General Election, Clement Attlee became Prime Minister until 1951. During his time as Prime Minister he implemented major policy reforms that laid the foundation of a post-war consensus, with the nationalisation of industries such as coal, rail and road transport, the Bank of England, the creation of National Health Service and a new welfare state. His time was also remembered for his commitment to pursuing the independence of India and Burma.
The Labour Party were defeated at the 1951 general election and Clement Attlee continued as its leader until his resignation in 1955 when he was granted a peerage and became Earl Attlee.
Just prior to his death in 1967, the Attlee Memorial Foundation (now the Attlee Foundation) was established as an enduring legacy to his values, underpinning the Foundation’s community and social work.
PAST ATTLEE PROJECTS
The Attlee Foundation has a track record of supporting and delivering over twenty innovative projects in the UK and beyond, with the aim of kick-starting projects that are capable of becoming self-sustaining. Our past projects include:
- Housing for teenagers in London’s East End, similar to today’s foyer projects, and a halfway those leaving the housing.
- Opening a community centre and day care for drug users at a time when there was no government funded support for drug users. This was funded initially by the Leverhulme Trust and later a London borough. This project led to development of a drug-free hostel for the next stage of rehabilitation which became the first of many Phoenix Houses across the UK.
- Providing eye camps in India and funding for an Indian doctor to study at Moorfields, in association with the Royal Commonwealth Society for the Blind.
- Developing an adventure playground in the heart of London’s East End. After many years of successful operation we redeveloped the site to add the youth and community centre and sports pitches.
- Attlee Means Business is an exciting project to develop entrepreneurial skills in young people in Tower Hamlets with support from City businesses. A programme of support over six workshops covering business basics and planning will be provided by City business volunteers with inspirational talks from successful business people and entrepreneurs. This project is funded jointly by City businesses and London Borough of Tower Hamlets.
- Tickets Please is a scheme which provides travel grants for disabled or disadvantaged people needing to make therapeutic journeys. These include journeys to enable parents to visit sick children being treated elsewhere, or to enable people to access treatment.