Saving together and protecting each other has a long history.

JP Anderson


It's how the NHS was born...

If you're looking for examples of how people have united to provide services to each other, then the creation of the NHS is a great place to start.

These days, we often think everything must be controlled by big business or government to succeed. This view misses just how often individuals and communities have worked together to deliver some of the most important services in our society.

As we say on our Background page, "This was all long before governments and profit makers got involved".

Back in the 1800s there was no National Insurance or NHS. The rich Merchant's Guilds did offer insurance for trading and sickness but this was in no way accessible to common people.

So what happened? Well, people got off their bums and setup community groups that they paid small sums to each week to cover any medical expenses they might have to pay. These groups were commonly known as fellowships or Friendly Societies, many still exist today.

The biggest fellowship was in Manchester. It was made up of people from all walks of life and all types of work. That's why it was called the Oddfellows!

Most of us will have had a drink in an Oddfellows bar at some point; if so, you've attended an Oddfellows meeting in a sense (they did like to socialise and have a few beers, that was all part of being a member and looking out for each other).

In 1911, when the Liberal government was setting up the National Insurance Act in Britain, the Manchester Oddfellows was the largest friendly society in the world.

In fact, the Oddfellows protected so many people's health needs that the government used the Oddfellows' own accounting books to work out the level of contribution and payment required to insure everybody in the UK. (read more).

A quick history of UK health insurance 

17th Century - Horrific Poor Laws that forced you into a workhouse and denied your citizens rights if you could not afford to live

18th Century - Friendly societies provide for members health and welfare

1810 - Manchester Oddfellows setup and becomes largest friendly society in the world

1911 - National Insurance Act (UK) based on Oddfellows health premiums

1948 - NHS formed to provide universal health care to all

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So, there you go. Not so much the Fellowship of the Rings as a Fellowship of Folk setting up and providing their own health insurance long before any government did.

Here at Profit Free Mortgages we are creating another fellowship. A community that saves and lends together to provide each other homes without having to pay excessive profits to the banks.

You can read more on the history behind that here

Team member JP

About the author

JP Anderson is one of the original team members here at PFM. He believes that everything good in this world comes from us all working together. He also thinks that there is nothing new under the sun, that we should always be mindful of what the folk who came before us acheived. Beyond that, we should demand that global tech works for us as people, not as products.

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