Two learning disability housing and supported living organisations have merged to form a new charity, the Housing and Support Alliance, to bring together commissioners, housing and care providers, carers and advocacy organisations.
The merger of Housing Options, a housing advisory service, and the Association for Supported Living, an organisation dedicated to improving supported living services, creates a membership organisation with combined budgets of £3 billion, representing some 75,000 people with learning disabilities.
The Housing and Support Alliance will:
• Offer free independent advice, information and resources on housing, supported living and rights
• Campaign for better housing, support and rights for people with learning disabilities
• Host conferences and events
• Offer training and consultancy services
• Commission and conduct research
• Identify and assimilate good practice.
Karyn Kirkpatrick, Housing Options’ chair, said: “Our two organisations have a long history of collaborative working and we share the same values. We believe that by joining together we can create something that is more than the sum of its parts. The memberships of both [organisations] increased in the last 12 months and both are in a reasonable financial position independently, so there is not a financial imperative for the merger. That said, it will result in a more efficient use of resources.”
Kim Foo, chair of the Association for Supported Living, added that the merger forms a substantial and diverse membership-based learning disabilities organisation. “Almost every big service provider in the country is already a member, alongside many local authority commissioners and advocacy organisations. That gives us a powerful lobbying voice, and we’ll be able to extend our services, including the free help and advice line, to a much wider group.”
The Housing and Support Alliance will formally launch at the Working Together conference on November 22 at the Manchester Conference Centre. A board of up to 15 non-executive directors and a chairperson will lead the new charity.
Alicia Wood, who will manage the Housing and Support Alliance, said: “It is exciting to be involved with an organisation that really makes a difference to the lives of people with learning disabilities and their families. We are able to do this with the support of our members and the funding they provide through membership fees. We are keeping central costs very low, so most of our resources go directly into providing information, advice and support to those who need it most, rather than funding overheads.”