safe as housesThe first charity bond to be listed on the London Stock Exchange’s Order Book for Retail Bonds was launched on June 27 and the proceeds from it will be used buy houses for people with a learning disability.

Learning disability charity Mencap’s housing arm, Golden Lane Housing (GLH), will use the proceeds of the Bond to invest in buying and adapting housing for people with a learning disability in their local communities. These houses and bungalows will provide a lasting legacy for future generations of people with a learning disability.

The bond has been launched via Retail Charity Bonds Plc, an independent non-profit special purpose vehicle. Retail Charity Bonds Plc is an initiative of Allia, a community benefit society with exempt charity status, and established in association with Canaccord Genuity.

Housing shortage
Only 16% of people with a learning disability live in supported housing in the community. Most live with friends and family or in residential care. Many people with a learning disability struggle to compete on the open property market, making it virtually impossible to find housing in areas where there is no suitable social housing available.

Based on current accommodation trends and population growth, it is estimated that there will need to be more than 14,000 extra accommodation places in England and Wales over the next 15 years for people with a learning disability. Local authorities will not be able to deliver this additional social housing unless they work in partnerships with social landlords, housing providers and developers to find new solutions.

The Bond follows GLH’s previous £10 million corporate bond issue, which closed in July 2013. This has now been invested in buying and adapting 27 houses and bungalows in community settings across the country which have become home to 99 tenants with a learning disability.

Jan Tregelles, chief executive of Mencap, said: “People with a learning disability are facing a housing shortage. Most people with a learning disability want greater independence, and families want to know their loved ones are settled and supported in long-term housing, which will meet their needs for years to come. In 2011 over 8,000 people with a learning disability were newly referred to local authorities for housing support. Alongside this, nearly 10,000 people were on housing waiting lists. When we add to this the thousands of people who will be returning to their communities from in-patient settings, the scale of the challenge becomes clear.

“Providing a home for people with a learning disability, transforms their lives and helps them to live the lives they choose in quality, permanent homes within their local communities.”

Back in the community
The previous bond helped to move some people out of residential care and long-stay hospitals. For instance, GLH and Mencap worked with Nottinghamshire County Council to move 16 people into adapted bungalows. Mark Jennison-Boyle, team manager of Supported Living Commissioning Team at Nottinghamshire County Council, said:

“Occupational therapy staff and care managers helped Golden Lane Housing to identify and make the necessary adaptations to four large wheelchair accessible bungalows including specialist tracking hoists and bathing facilities.

“Care managers and Mencap staff have seen some wonderful improvements in confidence and behaviour. This demonstrates the benefits people gain from supported living which is being provided at no extra cost to the local authority.” 

Further reading: Toolkit launched to improve housing rights for people with learning disabilities

One person to benefit from the bond was Joni, who was supported to live independently in a property owned by GLH after spending 1o years in an assessment and treatment unit.

Rob and Sharon Riggs, Joni’s parents, said: “After 10 long years at West Heath, we were so pleased that Joni was finally moving into her own home with the right support. We couldn’t ask for more. The house is well maintained and there have been further improvements over the years. It’s close to the centre of Liskeard and she is part of her community, enjoying going shopping and being out and about. Over the past few years she’s started going on holiday
which is a big achievement.

“She has a routine, choosing what she wants to do which is also developing her skills and helping her independence grow. Her brother goes round for tea and we pop round for lunch or go for a picnic which could never have happened before.”