We've recently launched a new report about Specialised Supported Housing which highlights the positive impact living independently has on the wellbeing of people with a learning disability.

Hear from Tessa, who lives in specialised supported housing and spoke in Parliament last year against cuts to Housing Benefit for people with a learning disability living in supported housing:

I have Down’s Syndrome and live in supported housing. 

Before supported housing, people with a learning disability had to live with their families or live in institutions. Most care professionals think that institutions are not the best place for people with a learning disability; they can be really bad for some people, who have to be far away from everyone they know and sometimes without proper support, people can even be in danger of abuse and neglect.

I don’t think that’s a life anyone would choose.

I moved into supported housing when I was 30. Before then I lived with my parents. I love them but I wanted to be independent. Nobody wants to still be living with their parents at 30!

After a lot of talking, my parents agreed and I now live in a house run by Golden Lane Housing, with Elizabeth and Katie, two other girls who have a learning disability. I love living with them, we’re like family.

I couldn’t live on my own without support, but I don’t want full time care.

Supported housing means I can be independent but have day to day support from Mencap. My support worker Jeanette helps me get out and do the things I love, like volunteering at Oxfam, my local book shop and The Cancer Trust.

I make my own choices and I get to live the life I want, something everyone has the right to.

I was really worried when the Government said that they would cut Housing Benefit for supported housing back in 2015, and very relieved when they changed their mind. It made me scared me for my future, because I would have had to move away from my home, my friends and my job and go and live with my family.  

I’m lucky though, a lot of people with a learning disability don’t have family who can support them, they could have to go live in institutions, where the support and accommodation might not be right for them. They would lose all their independence.

It would be a huge step back for everyone with a learning disability.  That's why I want the Government to listen to Mencap and make sure that homes like mine are available to more people with a learning disability. 

Speaking about our new report, Beatrice Barleon, Policy Manager at Mencap said:

The Specialised Supported Housing sector has a crucial role to play in the Government’s ‘Transforming care’ programme, giving people with a learning disability the opportunity to live in their community and with choice over where they call home. Until now we only had a limited understanding of the size of the sector, and this research shows that it is far larger than previously assumed, and at the same time cost-effective.

The Government must now ensure that Specialised Supported Housing is seen for what it is – a vital and cost-effective route to accessing a home in the community.

Read the report

Our latest report presents new research by Mencap, in partnership with Housing LIN (Learning and Improvement Network), has revealed that the Specialised Supported Housing (SHH) sector is more than double the size of previous estimates and that demand for SHH is rising.

Read the full PDF report, including methodology, key findings and case studies, here.