William Birch & Sons appointed as contractor

Newly appointed contractor William Birch to start work for the Wilberforce Trust

The Wilberforce Trust, one of York’s oldest charities, employs over 100 people in the City of York to support people with visual and sensory impairments and other disabilities.

The Wilberforce Trust has appointed York-based William Birch & Sons to begin the construction of their new specialist extra care housing and Living and Learning centre in Dringhouses.

The project will provide 30 new state-of-the-art apartments that will enable people to live independently with support as and when needed. Alongside the new apartments will be a Living and Learning centre that will be open to the local community.  The Living and Learning centre will be at the heart of the development and will include a café, activities areas, professional services with free consultations on hearing and visual impairments, information and equipment and access to rehabilitation professionals for advice guidance and services for all age groups.

The construction will create jobs for local workers as well as offer work experience placements for local students. William Birch employs over 80 people in and around the city bringing very local expertise and skills to the scheme.

The contractor was selected for its expertise in the construction of new and specialist residential and community developments, most recently completing the extra care facility at Glen Lodge for the City of York Council providing 25 new apartments and two new bungalows.

Philippa Crowther, CEO at Wilberforce Trust said: “The Wilberforce Trust is proud of our past supporting people with sight loss since 1833. Our strength has always been in building for the future and transforming and adapting to the times we live in.  We are excited for the next chapter in the Trust’s history and working with William Birch & Sons. People in York, with a sensory impairment, will have access to the most up to date facilities and services, delivered by expert professionals”

Chris Birch, Chairman at William Birch & Sons Ltd said: “We are delighted to be building facilities that will help our own communities live more independently.  Our team take great pride in their work and they will work closely with the Trust to realise their exciting plans. We thought our 145 year history in York was commendable, yet our customer, the Wilberforce Trust trumps us with their roots tracing back to 1833, that’s a total of  331 years in York, it seems fitting that we work together to develop such vital housing in our home city”

“Our team’s expertise coupled with local employment and engagement with many local businesses will bring wider benefits to the city of York and its people.”

The project will commence on site later this year and is scheduled for completion in the early part of 2021.


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The Wilberforce Trust is one of York’s oldest charities.  It traces its roots back to 1833 when the Yorkshire School for the Blind was first opened in memory of William Wilberforce. When the school closed in 1968, the Wilberforce Home for the Blind was established.  The Trust currently provides specialist supported housing across York and Tadcaster, and as well as its supported accommodation it provides a range of services for people with visual and sensory impairments including assessments, low vision clinics, training in visual awareness and IT and technology, group activities and rehabilitation.

Find us at: www.wilberforcetrust.org.uk  and follow us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn



William Birch & Sons Ltd established in 1874 is a York-based family-owned construction company.  Five generations of the Birch family have developed the company to its present-day strength, employing over 80 local people.  The business, with offices in York and Leeds, has an enviable portfolio of construction, refurbishment and restoration projects across a variety of sectors with a strong emphasis on high-profile projects including the complete refurbishment of the prestigious York Theatre Royal for the York Conservation Trust, the construction of a new extension at Glen Lodge in York to provide extra care facilities and the award-winning restoration of the Mansion House for the City of York Council.


Find us at: williambirch.co.uk  and follow us on Twitter


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The Wilberforce Trust is dedicated to helping those with visual impairment, sight loss, hearing loss and other disabilities across York, North Yorkshire and the surrounding areas.