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The Peckham Settlement was established in 1896 by a group of girls schools spread across the country. This was part of the Settlement movement initiated by universities and schools to interact with the local community, relieve poverty and promote social change. For instance, the Peckham Settlement pioneered a savings scheme which led to the passing of the first national unemployment insurance Act in 1911; established the first nursery school in London in 1935; had the first government sponsored job club for the the long term unemployed within a charity in 1987; and in 2011was awarded funding by NESTA for a pioneering experiment in community development known as SE Village.

In 1998 the Peckham Settlement took over the Pitt Street Settlement and the Camberwell Relief in Need charities.

The Peckham Settlement first operated from a Mission House in Calmington Road, off Albany Road, and then opened the Settlement at 17/19 Peckham Road in 1906. In 1930 it moved to its well known building in Goldsmith Road, which was opened by Queen Mary.  Princess Margaret became the Patron until she died and subsequently the Countess of Wessex was Patron until 2012.

Unlike typical single purpose charities, the Peckham Settlement has traditionally had a wide range of differing activities which have varied from time to time as needs and resources have changed.

Sadly in August 2012 the Peckham Settlement hit a financial crisis and had to be closed and put into administration.  The sale of its buildings enabled all its debts to be paid in full and the surplus has now been invested to provide a modest income.