This autumn and into next year we are delighted to be marking our landmark birthday, reflecting on our achievements so far, announcing new support services and setting out our plans for the future.
“I’m sure the organisation is more than capable of going on to bigger and better things. We’ve got a lot of good staff, a high quality team and I’m sure they will take it to another level. I’m only pleased that I’ve been able to play a small part in that”. Peter Swain OBE – Founder of charity Living Options Devon
In the beginning
Founded in 1990 by Peter Swain OBE, Living Options Devon has significantly grown from its humble beginnings. The charity began with just one employee and Peter as a volunteer, to now encompass a wide range of support services for disabled people, people with a long term health condition, and members of the Deaf Community across the south west. Thirty years on the charity continue Peter’s legacy striving to improve the service provision for disabled people in the community. Peter’s research in the early 1980s, along with that of those he volunteered with, centred around the extra provision for disabled people and what was available at that time by the statutory and voluntary sectors. Much of their research was incorporated into the first Community Care Plan in 1993.
User Led Charity
Living Options Devon is still a user-led charity, that continues to champion the needs and rights of disabled people and those with a long-term health condition, and more latterly members of the Deaf Community (who use British Sign Language (BSL)). Being led and run by disabled and Deaf people ensures our charity has a first-hand understanding of the issues facing disabled and Deaf people. We have established trust and credibility within the community, and have a strong commitment to partnership working, particularly through joining up with other charities to provide better services for disabled people.
Providing that extra service provision that Peter outlined in the very beginning, we offer services, information, and advice that equip disabled people and members of the Deaf Community with the tools and support they require to overcome barriers such as; discrimination; access issues; social isolation; communication barriers; lack of opportunities; to live the lives they want; to enjoy independence; gain employment; to know their rights; to find the courage to voice those rights.
As well as providing support services to our beneficiaries we also work across the southwest raising awareness of accessibility and our belief in a fully accessible society, through the delivery of access audits, Deaf Awareness training, disability equality training, disability and diversity consultancy, and specific high quality courses to a variety of voluntary, public and private organisations. We have worked with a range of clients including The Environment Agency, Devon County Council, The Learning and Skills Council, and The Royal Albert Museum. By working together, we can achieve a world where disabled and Deaf people are equal members of society.
Over the coming weeks and months, we will be sharing important announcements of new services, offering further cohesive support in light of the pandemic and what we wish to achieve over the coming five years and beyond. Until then, throughout November, we are going to reflect back on the highlights and achievements of Living Options Devon over the past thirty years and have our fingers crossed that we can all join in a celebration together, face to face in the autumn of 2021.
Thank you to everyone involved in the charity past and present from funders, partners, volunteers, trustee’s and staff. Lets celebrate!