Learning disability charity Thera Trust has launched a 5-year £2 million bond issue, the money from which will be used in part to acquire and/or adapt freehold properties for people with a learning disability and complex needs.
Thera currently provides services to 1,800 people with learning disabilities in England and Scotland. Many people supported by Thera live independently in the community in long-term rented accommodation owned by organisation or by housing associations. This type of stable, and in many cases bespoke, accommodation plays a vital role in enabling an individual to lead an independent life in their local community.
The charity began providing homes for people with a learning disability and complex needs in 2010 and today owns properties for more than 60 people through its charitable property company, Forward Housing. Increased provision of adapted housing is a key part of Thera’s future strategy.
The five year bond will pay investors 5.5% gross per year, payable annually in arrears. The minimum investment is set at £1,000; a lower minimum investment of £100 applies for Thera employees, beneficiaries and family of beneficiaries. Payment of interest and capital is not guaranteed and is dependent on the continued success of the charity.
Dan Hird, head of corporate finance at Triodos Bank, which is working in partnership with Thera on the bond issue, said: “People with a learning disability who have very complex support needs often find it impossible to find a suitable adapted property to live in. This bond issue allows investors to support the charity to help more people with a learning disability while also earning a financial return.”
James Dickens, principal at Grierson Dickens Chartered Financial Planners, added: “Social investments are a highly effective way of fulfilling many of our clients’ aims. The positive impact which these sorts of investments have on society is what really matters. Investors are highly motivated by using their money to make a positive change, as well as obtain an investment return. This is about real fulfilment, rather than just investing in areas where the sole aim is to make money.”
The effect that the right housing can have on a person with a learning disability is well known. For example, Steven, who is supported by Thera, moved into his own house recently.
“I visited the house a few times before I moved in and Thera’s staff talked with me and my parents about everything that was going on,” he said. “Before I decided to move in, I had to think about living on my own because I had not done this before. I really like the house and it is close to my family home. I share my house with Tim and David. I have a nice room that looks out on to my garden.”