International Women’s Day: Penny Wade


This year at SPEAR we celebrate International Women’s Day by remembering our founder Penny Wade. Penny was an inspirational woman who lived in Twickenham, she was a nurse, teacher, wife and mother to three children. She was a philanthropist and a visionary who deeply cared about people and made great efforts to improve the community she lived in.

Making things happen

SPEAR founder Penny Wade in an orchard These are just a few of the many organisations and projects she helped found and manage:
  • In 1956 she was one of the founding members of what is now the National Childbirth Trust. The trust set out to improve the experiences and pregnant women and motherhood for all women.
  • In 1965 she became a founding member of “Relaxation for Living”, becoming a teacher and holding classes in her home.
  • In 1977 she was appointed as manager and devoted 21 years to The Vineyard Project. Together with a team of volunteers helped thousands of local people in distress.
  • In 1986, following the horrifying deaths of two rough sleepers on the riverbank in Twickenham, Penny called a local meeting which was attended by 50 people. This directly lead to the creation of the Single Person’s Emergency Accommodation in Richmond, which we know today as SPEAR.
  • In 1989 the Penny Wade night shelter became the Penny Wade House as it found a permanent home.

Penny Wade House

The hostel provides previously rough sleeping clients with short-term accommodation. It caters for up to 14 people, all in single rooms with communal rooms and a kitchen. The specialist team helps support their often complex needs. This in time can help clients move forward into more permanent accommodation, consider work, volunteering or training and develop the skills they need to live independently.

A lasting legacy

Penny sadly passed away in 2008, but her legacy continues to live on, through the work we do and the memories of the local community. Her determination and drive and ability to bring people together to help those in need is something we at SPEAR are proud to be part of and continue to honour with the work we do which now stretches across four London Boroughs.

Help us to help more people

If you’d like to support our work to help people experiencing homelessness in Richmond, Kingston-upon-Thames, Merton and Wandsworth, you can donate here, find out about volunteering here, or join us for one of our fundraising events.
In other news...

Improving services for the homeless Roma community in Kingston

Last week SPEAR hosted a co-production event which brought together people from the Roma rough sleeping community and those working with them to better understand their needs and explore ways to improve our services in Kingston.

Yellow alert for hot weather in London

SPEAR is encouraging those rough sleeping to stay alert as they are more vulnerable and may need help to stay safe.

SPEAR signs joint letter to party leaders

We’ve joined over 50 homelessness organisations in signing Homeless Link’s letter to Rishi Sunak, Sir Keir Starmer and Sir Ed Davey