A charity bond that will fund permanent homes for people with a learning disability has proved so popular that it has been oversubscribed – and the first people have already benefited from it.

Golden Lane Housing (GLH), the housing arm of Mencap, launched the bond in February with the support of Triodos Bank. It has already attracted more than £8 million from investors who each put forward at least £2,000.

A shortage of social housing means just 1 in 3 people with a learning disability live independently. Many instead live in residential homes, away from their friends and families, or stay living with often ageing parents well into adulthood. 

The funds raised by GLH are being used to buy and adapt up to 30 houses across the country, where people with moderate to severe learning disabilities can live independent lives. The first two properties have been acquired and the first people to benefit the bond moved into a specially adapted house in Easingwold, north Yorkshire, over the May bank holiday.

They were James, Claire, Sarah and Elizabeth, who have been friends since their schooldays. They all have severe to profound learning disabilities and Claire has some physical disabilities. Their parents approached GLH to help them find them their perfect home.

Ged Wilkinson, James’s father, said: “We always wanted our children to be able to live together, and as independently as possible. For our children to live in a home not a ‘home’ if you know what I mean. That is why we are so thrilled that GLH have been able to use money from the bond to get the perfect house for our children.”

Extended bond deadline

Because of EU regulations that apply to this type of bond issue, GLH has had to stop accepting investments of less than £84,000 but has extended the deadline to invest more than this amount until June 28. Investors will receive a fixed yield of 4% per annum for a 5-year fixed term.

Alastair Graham, director of GLH, said: “The huge demand for this bond shows that there is a real appetite among individual investors in social investment.

“We are now looking for more institutional investors to come on board, and make a real, tangible difference to the lives of people with a learning disability, many of whom are currently excluded from the housing market.”

Lisa Suchet, chief executive of the Nationwide Foundation, which has invested £50,000 said: “It provided a great opportunity to make a significant difference to the lives of people with learning disabilities and their families. This is the first time we have invested in a bond of this nature. 

“As a funder of charitable work which addresses housing need, it provides the additional benefit that our investment will be returned to us at a later date so we can reuse the funds to create yet more decent, affordable homes for people in need.”