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Thera Trust

Who benefits

Thera’s vision is that people with a learning disability should be able to engage fully in society and have personal control and choice in their lives as equal citizens in their local community. 

People helped by Thera

Lucy's story

Lucy’s life has significantly changed in the last seven years. She had lived in an NHS Assessment and Treatment Unit (‘ATU’) since 1999, when she was 17 years old. She only had access to the lounge, hallway and toilets during the day. Lucy needs someone to support her throughout the whole day and has two people to help her when she is out and about.

Now she has her own space where she is free to do as she likes. In her new house, she can make drinks when she wants and, with support from Thera’s staff, she enjoys preparing and cooking her own meals.

Lucy now has her own car to enable her to get out and do things in her local community. She goes swimming, bowling and for day trips. She visits family and has been able to stay with them overnight, including for a family wedding. She’s visited the Harry Potter Studios and, at Easter, had a holiday at Holton Lee Discovery Centre in Dorset.

When Lucy was living in the ATU, she was unable to spend time with the people she lived with, as the people around her found it hard to understand and to cope with her behaviour. With more focussed support at home, and out and about, Lucy is helped with her behaviour, which is incredibly important to her and helps her to feel safe and understood.

As a result, Lucy is now much more independent, able to do most household tasks with support. Her new house and support at home is perfect for Lucy. It has enabled her to be part of her local community and to build relationships with people she wishes to spend time with. Moreover, living independently has enabled Lucy’s family to feel part of her life again. They can have more input into the way Lucy chooses to lead her life and are able to help her make decisions in her best interest.

Thera's leaders with a learning disability

“Though my own experience, I can give both staff/managers and the Board a steer on the quality of people’s support and how this affects people. Apart from one other board member, I am the only one who can enforce this."
Sam. Service Quality Director, Thera South West

Thera's leaders with a learning disability bring their own experience and knowledge of what it means to have a learning disability, the cornerstone of its organisational person centred approach, influencing the strategic direction, policy and practice of Thera.

Service Quality Directors (“SQDs”) are paid executive directors with a learning disability. The role of the SQD is to ensure that the quality of support is checked by people with a learning disability, to ensure that people have control over and are involved in the design and delivery of their own support and to implement company membership.

As paid Executive Directors, they monitor the quality of support and services to people through visits, commissioning quality assessments and by monitoring and responding to comments and complaints. This SQD role is unique to Thera. Using their lived experience of learning disability, they inform, direct and influence company planning and decision-making to ensure Thera provides the best care and support services possible. Aspire joined Thera last year and they have benefited from having one of Thera’s experienced SQDs join their executive team.

Ian Harper, SQD for Aspire Living, has visited everyone supported by Aspire and has quickly engaged with people, enabling people’s views to be represented at board level by a leader with a similar lived experience.

Supporting people with complex behavioural support needs

Alex moved in to a new house two years ago. His house was made available by Thera to a local housing association for Alex to live in. At the same time, Thera South West, one of the regional companies in the Thera Group, started supporting Alex. He had already had support from several other organisations but this hadn’t worked out.

Alex is a young, energetic man who loves the outdoors and enjoys doing a large variety of activities. We support him both at home and out and about in his local community. Alex needs two people with him all the time, which helps him to feel safer and more confident.

Since moving into his own place and being supported by Thera, Alex’s confidence has come on leaps and bounds. Previously, he wasn’t able to manage crowds, but he’s now got the confidence to walk through crowded shopping malls and he enjoys the local disco with a big smile on his face. Alex goes to the gym three times a week and, with the support of his team, he has found a number of gym routines that he really likes to do.

One of Alex’s favourite places is the local trampoline park with a ninja warrior assault course. He also enjoys roller skating, music, boxercise and the climbing wall, and he has taken up yoga, which keeps him relaxed.

Everything about Alex has changed since moving into his own home with Thera South West’s support. His verbal communication has improved, he gets on well with people in his local community and he is clearly now enjoying life like a young man of his age should.

Will's story

Will has been supported to go to Chelmsford Community Radio Station (CCR) every Saturday for about a year by his personal assistant, Carl. Will loved it the first time he went and the team at the radio station got along with him really well – not surprising, as Will loves to socialise and has a great personality.

Carl introduced him to some of the administrative work that the team does, including how to prepare a show and edit the music ready for airplay. After a while they recorded a couple of shows together. During this time Will got to know the Saturday crew, the station founders and a few other faces. It wasn’t long before he was invited to go live on air on the rock show with Angela.

At first Carl was with him for support, then he realised he was not needed and Will started going on his own. This led to Will being offered his own live show every other Saturday from 11am to 12pm.

Besides the usual radio work, Will has mucked in with other jobs that needed to be done. Everyone is a volunteer at CCR so any work that needs doing they have to do themselves. Will is a much-loved part of the team.

Thera's projects

Thera's charitable funding allows them to lead or sponsor specific innovative projects which promote the interests of people with a learning disability and enable them to fulfil their ambitions. Below are some examples.

  • Gig Buddies (Scotland) In August 2016 and in partnership with Stay Up Late in Scotland, Thera launched Gig Buddies, a project to link music fans who have a learning disability with other music lovers for gig nights, or whatever other activities they enjoy doing together. Thera's vision is for people with a learning disability to know they can Stay Up Late and choose how they live their lives. The project aims to create a community of people who share the same interests, regardless of their disabilities and differences.
  • Thera continues to promote it's Safe and Secure (England) publication, a book directed at parents of people with a learning disability. 1,480 books have been distributed this year and a further 48 more people attended Safe and Secure workshops with the aim of increasing awareness of the book to give parents of people with a learning disability the advice and tools they need to ensure their children have a safe and secure future when they are no longer around.
  • The TEN partnership is an alliance comprising Neighbourhood Networks, Equal Futures and Thera (Scotland). Together, they are promoting a way of supporting people which, by focussing on the resources of a local community and developing peer networks and circles of support, enables an individual to reduce their reliance on paid staff, increasing their independence and quality of life, whilst reducing the cost of support to a local authority.
  • The Dolphin's Den project supports people with a learning disability to set up their own business or community project. The aim of the project is to empower people to achieve their goals and to develop confidence. The third and final pilot project was completed earlier this year.


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