A charity at the heart of our community, supporting and inspiring people to improve their health and wellbeing.

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History of Improving Lives Plymouth

Part of the city since 1907

Improving Lives Plymouth was established in 1907 in response to a letter in the Western Evening Herald from a woman in Oldham, Mary Higgs. She appealed in her letter for people to "help the needy by providing better housing, salvation from drink and true citizenship". This lead to a public meeting on 19 March 1907 to consider the need for an organisation to do just that and the Plymouth Civic Guild of Help was inaugurated on 23 September the same year.

We have had several names over the years, as we have developed a wide range of activities and services to support and work alongside local people. Many organisations in the city started at the Guild. Among them Age Concern, CAB, Victim Support and Community Transport. Many societies also were set up, including MS Society and Parkinson's Disease Society.

Click here to read the speech by Deborah Lapthorne made at the 100 year celebration of Improving Lives Plymouth.

110 Facts for 110 Years - watch the list of interesting facts grow week by week throughout our year long celebrations and learn more about who we were and what we did in years gone by.

Case Studies - watch this list of amazing case studies from our early years grow week by week throughout our year long celebration for our 110th birthday.


Since its formation in 1907, Improving Lives Plymouth has undergone 6 name changes. From starting out as 'Plymouth Civic Guild of Help' in 1907 to 'Improving Lives Plymouth' in 2017, click on the pictures to learn the reasons behind all our name changes.

1907 - 1921 : Plymouth Civic Guild of Help

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 1921 - 1959 : Plymouth Council of Social Service

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1959 - 1973 : Plymouth Guild of Social Service

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1973 - 1997 : Plymouth Guild of Community Service

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1997 - 2005 : Plymouth Guild of Voluntary Service

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2005 - 2017 : Plymouth Guild

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2017 : Improving Lives Plymouth