The Beeston Methodist Benevolent Society was formed in 1826 at our Chapel Street Church. The members were concerned at the acute poverty in the village due to the decline of the framework knitting industry and some decided to give a penny or two pence per week to support the poor and the sick for whom, in those days, there was no state benefit.
This weekly collection continued for many years. Then, in about 1870, a group of young men from the choir decided to collect money for the Society by singing old carols at Christmas around the village.
Today this group exists as the Carol Choir and the money raised is still given to the Society. The weekly collection eventually ceased, but the annual amount collected by the Carol Choir continued to increase and became (and still is) the Society’s main source of income.
At first the gifts that the Society made were generally in goods – chiefly coal or food, but eventually they were replaced by cash. Over the years the Society was well served by a team of dedicated visitors, who looked out for and helped people in need. Today, a link has been established with bodies such as Social Services and the Citizens’ Advice Bureau, who contact the Society if they have a client who needs help. This may be because either they do not qualify for State assistance, or it is insufficient for their needs. Sometimes a one-off payment is made to help them whilst their State benefits are assessed. Church members also advise the Society of people they know who would benefit from a little financial assistance. The Society’s funds are available to anyone in need, whatever their race or creed.
A year or so after the Society was founded, the Annual Benevolent Society Service was inaugurated. This service was held around the second or third Sunday in January until 2017 and the Mayor of Broxtowe usually attended. A less-formal annual service now celebrates the wider charitable activities and giving of our church, including support for our annual Church Charity and the ongoing work of the Beeston Benevolent Society.
We are grateful for the Christian concern of our forebears who had the courage to inaugurate this society, and for the perseverance of their successors who have enabled us to continue this work today.