Established in 1989 when long-stay hospitals began to close, Life Opportunities Trust, (LOT-UK), was a pioneer of person centred support for people with learning disabilities. Founded by Jane Reynolds, our Life President, who as a hospital manager was keen to ensure positive future service provision for those resettled in the community and provide optimum quality care and support.
Abuses and mistreatment of people with learning disabilities in such hospitals at the time had been prolific and many service users transferred into the community were severely institutionalised. LOT-UK supported these people in a compassionate, person centred manner from day one and whilst much has changed over the last 30 years, our organisational mantra, large enough to cope, small enough to care, has not.
Large enough to cope, small enough to care
Today we provide support to 86 service users in small, registered group homes and supported living settings across Hertfordshire, Hillingdon, Hounslow and Westminster. We also provide support to 30 people with learning disabilities, living independently in the community.
We believe community is about people, relationships and networks and work hard at ensuring our small group homes are a key part of their local community. We want to develop new services and use our resources to provide community-based spaces for isolated people including those with learning disability and dementia.
We recognise the importance of extending our resources increasingly as community resources. For example, increasingly our group homes are providing hubs for community activities reaching out to local people with and without learning disabilities. As part of our community options plan we have piloted a friendship café with a range of social and learning activities available e.g. creative dance and IT classes. This prototype service is in the midst of 6 out of 21 of our small group homes and we aim to gain the support of community stakeholders and commissioners to roll out similar services across the areas we operate in.
We operate in a regulated environment with the large majority of our income coming from local authority framework contracts. To develop new services and use our resources to provide community-based spaces for isolated people including those with learning disability and dementia, we need funding. With your help we will add to grant funding to make the first project viable and demonstrate positive outcomes e.g. reducing the number of hospital admissions, support social prescribing and combat loneliness. The project will then be organically scaled up. We have received £10k from a charitable grant and £10k from Awards for Everyone which enhances the impact of our existing Outreach Services. The funding needed to make this project a success will be used to support IT and social media investment to communicate effectively and engage with supporters including volunteers, referrers and purchasers. We also require transport to ensure the service is accessible to all.