Toc H is an international movement instigated by the Reverend Philip Thomas Byard (Tubby) Clayton as a way to perpetuate the Fellowship developed in Talbot House, a soldiers’ club run by him in Poperinge, Belgium from 1915-1918. It is from the contemporary phonetic alphabet for TH (Talbot House) that Toc H takes its unique name. See History of Toc H for further information.
Toc H members seek to ease the burdens of others through acts of service. They also promote reconciliation and work to bring disparate sections of society together. Many members belong to branches which may organise such localised activities as hospital visits or entertainment for the residents of care homes. Other members may act individually to carry out some form of service which could be as simple as getting a neighbour’s shopping or visiting someone who is housebound. A few more formally organised projects such as residential holidays for special groups still take place. Historically the Toc H movement has been responsible for starting or collaborating in some of the most innovative forms of social service.
Toc H is also active through its partners. Over the years, many projects that began in Toc H now exist as independent organisations including the Winant-Clayton Volunteers; the School under Sky and the associated Friends of Khasdobir;
As mentioned above Fellowship sits alongside Service as a fundamental aim of Toc H and many branches still meet regularly to share in this aspect. Toc H is a Christian based Movement that welcomes those of other, and of no religion, into its fold and chooses to promote Christianity through deed and example rather than by preaching. There is some ceremony involved in branch meetings most notably the act of taking Light. Tubby’s birthday (which almost coincides with the anniversary of the original opening of Talbot House) is also celebrated annually with the World Chain of Light which unites branches around the world. There are strong overseas pockets of Toc H – particularly in Australia and Belgium – which carry out activities in the name of Toc H. In post-colonial countries such as Zimbabwe too, remaining members make small but vital contributions to the community.
Toc H has branches and members in the UK; Australia; Belgium; India; Zimbabwe; South Africa; Gibraltar; France and elsewhere. The commonality of this worldwide movement is its shared ethos which is best summed up in the Four Points of the Compass which express the fundamental beliefs of Toc H and were originally drawn up in 1920. These are Fellowship (To Love Widely); Service (To Build Bravely); Fairmindedness (To Think Fairly); and the Kingdom of God (To Witness Humbly).
Current status of Toc H in the UK
The changing face of the charity sector and a number of other factors brought Toc H to a critical stage at the end of the 20th century. The traditional branch meeting approach does not suit the lifestyle of many and increased regulation had an affect on branch activities and the project scene that had been prevalent in Toc H for many years. Membership had been in decline and Toc H faced a financial crisis. Thankfully, it had acquired an extensive property portfolio over the years, and the sale of this is allowing it to meet its obligations. All paid staff were made redundant by 2008 and Toc H is now run entirely by volunteers (Except for a part-time administrator and accounts staff). However, the passion and determination of these people is ensuring that Toc H overcomes its problems and enters a period of renewal. As Toc H UK approaches its centenary in December 2019, Toc H stands proud in its mission to bring people together in reconciliation and reach out to those members of society most in need.
Structure and Constitution
Toc H in the UK is a membership organisation managed by a board of trustees and governed by Royal Charter first granted in 1922. It is a registered charity (No. 211042 and SC045491).
Its charitable objectives as set out in the Royal Charter are: to advance the Christian religion, to advance education especially in regard to the study and practice of the social sciences, to promote the efficiency of Our Armed Forces, to promote the rehabilitation of offenders, to provide or assist in the provision of facilities for recreation or other leisure time occupations with the object of improving conditions of life, particularly among young people, to give relief to the poor and aged, to give assistance to the sick and to promote such other charitable purposes which Toc H may determine.