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From Winterbourne View to Leicestershire

Charlotte Betts, Affinity Trust’s Head of Housing, tells the story behind Affinity Trust’s new housing scheme for people with complex needs.

Soon after starting to work for Affinity Trust, I sat down to watch the Panorama report on Winterbourne View. I knew it was going to be grim from the media coverage, but spending an hour seeing vulnerable people being abused by staff paid to look after them made me quietly angry and determined to help. I still have a clear image of a young woman crying out for her mum while being bullied by support staff.

Over the years, Affinity Trust has helped people move out of hospital and institutional environments. However, again and again we got referrals for people who needed accommodation that couldn’t be sourced from existing landlords. Reading through referral information showed a huge need for:

  • accommodation that offered a robust environment

  • enough space to be supported 3:1

  • distance from neighbours

  • a layout where staff could safely withdraw rather than having to restrain the person supported.

A two-bedroom bungalow in a cul-de-sac was not going to fit the bill!

It became clear the only way we could get the accommodation right was to do a new build, and design something that would enable us to help people with learning disabilities and/or autism still stuck in hospitals and assessment and treatment units.

 

A building site
A building site
Inside wall of a building under construction
Inside wall of a building under construction
Outside of a group of bungalows
Outside of a group of bungalows
Open-walled garden hut
Open-walled garden hut

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Several things came together. NHS England announced there was capital funding available for charities like ourselves to apply for; commissioners in Leicestershire were prepared to work closely with us; and we found an ideal plot of land up for auction that I thought we could get for a very reasonable price. I should also mention a senior management team and board of trustees who were willing to take a leap of faith to give the go-ahead to something that could be life-changing for the people referred to us.

On a good day, I have been called tenacious, single-minded and determined: qualities I would need in spades on Affinity Trust’s journey to open its first new-build development as part of the Transforming Care programme.

The build took just over a year and was a steep learning curve for myself and the organisation. Please, let no one tell me again that it is so much simpler to do a new build than convert a building! And yes, then there was the small matter of building during a once-in-a-century global pandemic. It felt like sailing a ship through a storm waiting for the next wave to hit.

Stakeholders who have visited the completed development have been amazed at what we have achieved. If this development changes lives, it will have been worth it.


Charlotte Betts

Charlotte has worked in housing for over 20 years. She is a member of the Chartered Institute of Housing and is experienced in working with housing associations, local authorities and charities.

Charlotte has worked for Affinity Trust for over ten years, ensuring the housing elements of projects are delivered successfully. She helps our divisions manage our relationships with housing association partners. Charlotte also oversees the running of our separate housing arm, Millbrook Property Services.


Contact us

Contact us

Head Office

Head Office
1 St. Andrew's Court, Wellington Street, Thame, Oxfordshire OX9 3WT View Map
T: 01844 267800 F: 01844 267829 E: info@affinitytrust.org

Central England

Central - Divisional Office
109 Boston Road, Beaumont Leys, Leicester, LE4 1AW View Map
T: 0116 236 3793 F: 0345 643 7094 E: infocentral@affinitytrust.org
Sheffield office
157-163 Sheffield Road, Killamarsh, Sheffield S21 1DY View Map
T: 0114 276 4980 E: infocentral@affinitytrust.org

East England

East - Divisional Office
U18, South Fens Business Centre, Fenton Way, Chatteris, Cambridgeshire PE16 6TT View Map
T: 01354 696009 F: 08456 437521 E: infoeast@affinitytrust.org
Suffolk Office
Office 3, Wharfside House, Prentice Road, Stowmarket, Suffolk IP14 1RD View Map
T: 01449 774030 E: infoeastanglia@affinitytrust.org

North England

North - Divisional Office
Unit 9 Parkview Court, St Paul's Road, Shipley, West Yorkshire, BD18 3DX View Map
T: 01274 533553 E: infoshipley@affinitytrust.org

Positive Behaviour Support for children, young people and their families

Positive Behaviour Support
1 St. Andrew's Court Wellington Street, Thame, Oxfordshire, OX9 3WT View Map
T: 07341 478228 E: paultaylor@affinitytrust.org

Scotland

Scotland - Divisional Office
62 Viewfield Road, Ayr KA8 8HH View Map
T: 01292 436030 E: infoscotland@affinitytrust.org
Oban Office
First Floor, Glenshellach House, 7e Glengallan Road, Oban, PA34 4HG View Map
T: 01631 571311 F: 01631 566708 / 0872 111 4616 E: infoscotland@affinitytrust.org
Aberdeen Office
87a Urquhart Road, Aberdeen, AB24 5ND View Map
T: 01224 039264 E: infoscotland@affinitytrust.org
Isle of Bute Office
18 East Princes Street, Rothesay, Isle of Bute PA20 9DL View Map
T: 01700 500376 E: infoscotland@affinitytrust.org
Irvine office
Suites 2/1 and 2/2, Landek House, 44-46 Bank Street, Irvine KA12 0LP View Map
T: 01294 446600 E: infoscotland@affinitytrust.org

South England

South - Divisional Office
Suites 53-55, Aldershot Enterprise Centre, Mandora House, Aldershot, Hampshire, GU11 2PW View Map
T: 01252 311188 F: 01252 311170 E: infosouth@affinitytrust.org
Oxford Office
Office 4, Hampden House, Monument Park, Chalgrove, Oxfordshire OX44 7RW View Map
T: 01865 893269 E: infosouth@affinitytrust.org
Somerset Office
Mendip Court, Bath Road, Wells, Somerset BA5 3DG View Map
T: 01749 605594 E: infosouth@affinitytrust.org

South East England

South East - Divisional Office
Suite 2+3, Henwood Pavilion, Henwood, Ashford, Kent, TN24 8DH View Map
T: 01233 665324 E: infosoutheast@affinitytrust.org
East Sussex Office
Units 31-32, Castleham Business Centre East, Stirling Road, St Leonards On Sea, East Sussex, TN38 9NP View Map
T: 01424 853390 F: 0845 643 7300 E: infosoutheast@affinitytrust.org

Specialist Support

Specialist Support
Head Office, 1 St Andrew's Court, Wellington Street, Thame View Map
T: 01844 267800 F: 01844 267049 E: info@affinitytrust.org