Friendly Societies have been around for hundreds of years and may even have their origins dating back to Roman times. They grew from the simple premise that if a group of people contributed to a mutual fund, then they could receive benefits at a time of need.The early meetings were often held as a social gathering when the subscriptions would be paid.
The role of Friendly Societies became acknowledged by the Government and membership was encouraged. The act of 1875 called for a system of auditing and registration. People joined Friendly Societies in large numbers and they could be found in small villages and large towns alike; indeed by the late 1800's there was in the order of 27,000 registered Friendly Societies.
Prior to the Welfare State they were often the only way a working person had to receive help in times of ill health, or old age. In the days when having no income normally meant a life of begging or living in the poorhouse the importance of Friendly Societies to their members and the tremendous social service they provided cannot be over stated.
When the Welfare State was introduced during the last century the staff within the Friendly Societies already had the expertise to run the scheme and they were instrumental in administering it.
Friendly Societies had around 14 million members by the 1940's. Numbers dropped when the Welfare State was nationalised however as Governments now continuously seek to reduce their own responsibility to provide, it is likely that organisations such as Friendly Societies will again have to be the first choice of provider for a number of life's needs.
Nowadays there are approximately 200 or so Friendly Societies. Many have remained locally based, while others have grown into national organizations, offering sophisticated financial services products to their members.
Many of us may owe something of our family history to Friendly Societies and we hope this site will encourage you to find out more about these remarkable organizations.
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incurred as a result of using this site. Friendly Societies are welcome to contact us to arrange a listing.