On the day Bristol-based charity Brandon Trust begins its innovative operations in London, it has also released a report calling for action on transport-related issues affecting people it supports with learning disabilities and autism.
Formed in 1994, the award-winning Brandon Trust has more than 1,000 employees and works with over 1,200 people enabling them to live as independently as possible.
And yesterday (1 November), London-based not-for-profit organisation Odyssey Care, which carries out a similar support role across the boroughs of Croydon, Wandsworth, Southwark, Merton and Sutton, will officially become Brandon Trust in London as part of a full merger, having been a subsidiary since April 2011.
Brandon Trust Chief Executive Lucy Hurst-Brown said the move makes the organisation, which has an annual turnover of around £52 million, stronger and able to offer more competitive services as a whole.
She said: “We will be supporting more people with learning disabilities in many different ways and bringing together a diverse workforce with lots of skills and creativity to share.
“It is very challenging, but it is a time of opportunity as well. It’s strength in numbers. Together we are much stronger and we are able to progress to much better individualisation for people we support.”
At the same time, Brandon Trust has produced a transport report based on views expressed by more than 100 people supported by Brandon Trust, which were collected over 12 months and culminated in a conference held in September.
The report identifies problems with the lack of adequate and accessible transport for people with learning disabilities and also the barriers they face on public transport, including a lack of understanding for their specific needs from other passengers and drivers.
The report concludes that a lack of adequate transport solutions is one of the main barriers to people with learning disabilities accessing the same opportunities as anybody else.
And the people who helped compile the report say they want more public awareness of their transport needs and their views heard by the policy-makers, who can bring about change.
Ms Hurst-Brown, who was the Chief Executive of Odyssey Care until 2005, explained having a presence in London would also improve fundraising opportunities and offer Brandon Trust a chance to be a greater voice for the people it supports.
She said: “As we expand, we have a growing sense of responsibility to express the voice of the people we support to be able to shape the thinking of Government and society’s view of disability.
“If you are a really small organisation, you don’t have to bear that responsibility, but the more people you support, the more important it is that you step up and be a voice, and London is the place to be a voice.”
About Brandon Trust
Brandon Trust is a Bristol-based UK charity working throughout the South West of England and in London, supporting over 1,200 people with learning disabilities and autism to live the lives they choose. We provide personalised services designed around individual needs, from living solutions to vocational courses, from community and leisure access to employment training and support. We also have a wealth of experience in working with people with complex needs whose behaviour sometimes challenges the environment in which they live, or with profound and multiple learning disabilities. Brandon Trust works with a variety of partners to create innovative and person-centered support solutions for people with learning disabilities and autism, involving family, carers, purchasers and other providers in the design of the support provision.
To find out more about Brandon Trust, head to www.brandontrust.org.