Our History

The Inspiring History of Mary Seacole Housing Association

The preliminary work for Mary Seacole Housing Association began in the 1980s, in Councillor Desline Stewart’s kitchen in response to the direct pleas of young people who were running away from home.

These young people sought out Councillor Stewart specifically, who at that time had built a reputation for her philanthropic work accommodating people from a wide range of backgrounds. Word of mouth grew across Luton and as more people gathered at Councillor Stewart’s home, it became evident that she would need to increase her outreach and support.

Local politicians began to take note of Councillor Stewart’s activities, resulting in a grant from Urban Aid and, with assistance from Luton Borough Council and Luton Churches, a recommendation was made to the Housing Corporation who purchased the first two houses on Brantwood Road to support her work. This was the start of the housing trust in 1986.

Mary Seacole was chosen as the name for the trust by Councillor Stewart because she was a strong advocate of Seacole’s humanitarian work and altruism. Mary Jane Seacole OM (née Grant; 1805 – 1881), was a pioneering, British-Jamaican nurse and heroine of the Crimean War. As a woman of mixed race, she overcame racism and injustice to nurse soldiers during the Crimean war, 200 years ago.

Councillor Stewart felt a strong kinship with Mary Seacole and believed that there was an affinity between her own rescuing of homeless young people with Seacole’s nursing of wounded soldiers on the battlefield.

Over the years, Mary Seacole Housing Association has built a reputation for being one of the foremost in its field. We now have ten properties in the Luton area, providing quality accommodation and support for single homeless people and those with complex needs.

We are proud of our history and passionate about supporting and inspiring the people we help to sustain, manage and reach their goals.

Councillor Desline Stewart, Life President of Mary Seacole Housing Association

Who was Mary Seacole? FIND OUT MORE about Mary Seacole and her pioneering work

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