25 years of GLH: “What I am most proud of is the people that have made the difference to people’s lives over the last 25 years.”

September 1, 2023

This month, Golden Lane Housing (GLH) celebrates 25 years since it began providing housing for people with learning disabilities and autistic people. To celebrate this landmark anniversary, members of the GLH Executive Team will be sharing blogs highlight GLH’s achievements.

John Verge, Chief Executive at GLH and Chair of the Learning Disability and Autism Housing Network, talks about the journey GLH has been on over the past 25 years to become a leading housing provider.

This month we celebrate Golden Lane Housing’s (GLH) 25th anniversary and it provides an opportunity to reflect on some of our amazing achievements and impact. Over that time GLH has been a leading provider of innovative housing solutions and services to support people with a learning disability and autistic people to live independently and safely in their communities.

Back in 1998, when we were established by Mencap, it was a time of great change within the social care and learning disability sector. The 1990s had seen the introduction and emerging effects of the new NHS and Care in the Community Act, with a move away from institutional settings and the start of a new model of supported housing. By the early 2000s the government’s ‘Valuing People’ policy provided a clear vision on people’s need for rights, independence, choice and inclusion. There began a real shift towards supported housing. The expectations from individuals and their families were rightly changing and people wanted the same opportunities and options for independence as their siblings and friends.

GLH was at the forefront of that movement of change, supporting individuals by developing new bespoke housing through key relationships with their families, commissioners, support providers, contractors, legal advisors and funders. From the outset GLH supported people move from NHS long stay hospitals and campuses across the country and led on innovative capital funding and lease arrangements. We importantly offered advice and options for people who wanted to move from their family home to gain their independence.

Over the last quarter of a century there have been many important milestones and highlights. In 2003 we issued the first ever UK charity housing bond which gave us the experience a decade later to support the formation of the Retail Charity Bond platform, which has raised tens of millions of pounds for the housing sector. Over the last decade we have developed our specialist approach to safeguarding tenants and ensuring properties are safe. We have established our own in-house repairs delivery team, Resolve Solutions and developed our tenant involvement approach to ensure our tenants have a louder voice and better scrutiny of our services.

GLH has played an important influencing role for positive sector change; campaigning against the threat of benefit caps for supported housing in 2017 and being a founding member of the Learning Disability and Autism Housing Network in 2019.

What I am most proud of is the people that have made the difference to people’s lives over the last 25 years. It has been their passion, creativity, expertise, caring approach, and pure hard work that has helped us do so many important things. We have dedicated teams across the organisation that puts the well-being and safety of our tenants at the heart of our approach.

Our work to provide quality specialist supported housing is as important as ever and this anniversary also provides an opportunity to look forward to our future work and impact. Future generations of people with learning disability and autistic people and their families will continue to look to organisations like GLH to create the opportunities for quality homes with services that meet their expectations.