Happy 101st birthday, PSS

Well, we can’t quite believe it, but the end of 2019 means our big 100 year has come to a close. Today, PSS turned 101!

As we reach the tail end of a year’s worth of celebration, we’ve taken a look back at some of the great things we did to celebrate our big 100 year.

1 January 2019 marked the start of our centenary year – 100 years to the day since our founder Eleanor Rathbone opened the doors to Liverpool Personal Services Society, as we were known then – ‘a society for any citizen in need’. And it’s this very simple principle – seeing an issue and doing what we can to change it – that has driven us forward ever since.

Thanks to some funding we received from our friends at the National Lottery Heritage Fund, our centenary year has presented us with the opportunity to put our heritage on the pedestal it deserves.

At the top of the year, we asked you to email, phone and write in with your stories about how PSS has touched your life – and you didn’t let us down. As the months went by, we collected a fantastic selection of stories that perfectly sum up how PSS has made its mark. Over the course of 2019, we found some creative and interesting ways to celebrate and share the most poignant stories of PSS past; the ones that represent the journey that not only we’ve been on as an organisation but also the very personal journeys of the most important people to us: the people that we’ve supported.

Our museum art installation

In April 2019, we unveiled our very special conceptual art installation in the Museum of Liverpool created just for us by local artist, Sarah Nicholson. Our installation explored PSS’s place on the Liverpool map – how we’ve helped bridge the gaps in social care for people from all over our city and beyond for the last 100 years; the translucent figures filled with light commenting on how, so often, those of us in need are overlooked until someone shines a light upon them.  The installation was in the lobby of the museum for six months and was visited and enjoyed by many people who’ve used our services, past and present, and many visitors to our brilliant city. This was all possible with thanks to our friends at the museum, the lovely Lucy at Liverpool’s Dot Art  who helped us match us up with our artist, Sarah, and the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

The Big 100 film

In June we released our Big 100 short film which, for the first time on film, tells the story of PSS through the decades. The film featured many people from across PSS services, sharing their stories alongside moments from our history. We’re so proud of how it turned out.

The big 100 debate

Our film launch happened at FACT (Foundation for Art and Creative Technology) in Liverpool. This was alongside a centenary debate entitled: ‘All just a little bit of history repeating: how can we keep health, social care and criminal justice moving forwards?’.

On our panel we had Alex Fox, CEO of Shared Lives Plus Community, Jane Kennedy, Merseyside Police and Crime Commissioner, social history expert Dr Michael Lambert, Dean Butterworth, Regional Director of Riverside Group and our very own Lesley Dixon, CEO at PSS.


We were also joined by some influential figures in health, social care and criminal justice, and discussed the pressures on the third sector as available funding decreases. This drew parallels to our beginnings when funding was particularly sparse but PSS fought tooth and nail to make a difference. We had a lively debate about how agencies can better work together during funding crises. As Michael Lambert pointed out, regardless of the state of the social care sector, PSS has endeavoured to be about the people, putting them at the heart of what we do since 1919.

In the same vein, later in June, our chief exec, Lesley Dixon, spoke at the University of Liverpool’s Eleanor Rathbone Social Justice Lecture Series. Lesley talked about how Eleanor inspired our ‘rebel with a cause’ approach to social justice.

The big 100 in our services

Throughout the year the people we support really got on board with the celebrations, and threw a few of their own shin digs and special events to celebrate. We had art projects, historical reenactments, history walks, time capsule burials, a photography exhibition, 1920s-themed parties and all kinds of wonderful opportunities to hear people’s stories.

The big 100 book

And to top it all off, we’re putting the finishing touches to our book, which is currently in the final stages of publication. ‘What Ought To Be Done’ will feature the stories of lots of people that we’ve supported past and present. We can’t wait to share this work with you in the coming weeks.

Until then, happy 101st birthday, PSS. Here’s to our next 100 years.