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Our history


In the garden at Frocester Manor in the 60s

Since Hft was established, some things have changed significantly, while others – like our desire to support people with learning disabilities to live the best life possible – have stayed the same. In the 1960s, there were limited opportunities available for people with learning disabilities when they reached adulthood. So, in 1962 a group of visionary parents that had children with learning disabilities and who wanted to ensure a better life for them, set up Hft.

To ensure their children would continue to learn and develop and fulfil their potential after leaving school, these parents joined together to purchase Frocester Manor in Gloucestershire, creating a home in which people with learning disabilities could be supported to take control of their own lives. From this small beginning, Hft has grown to support more people with learning disabilities and their families.

In 1982, Her Royal Highness, The Princess Royal honoured Hft by accepting an invitation to become our Royal Patron. Since then, HRH has made many visits to our services, conferences and fundraising events, helping to promote the charity and champion the rights of the people we support.

As well as small, person-centred residential care homes, we now support more and more people to live independently in their homes through our supported living services. We also provide support for people with learning disabilities to take part in activities, to make friends or develop relationships and to get the experience that will help them find paid employment.

Launched in 1993, Hft’s Family Carer Support Service provides one to one support and information to family carers of people with a learning disability, supported by Hft or other learning disability service providers.

Hft is also a market leader in the provision of what we call ‘personalised technology’ – using assistive technology to support people with learning disabilities to achieve greater independence in their lives.

In May 2013, Hft merged with Self Unlimited, a charity that was also set up in the 1960s to provide support for people with learning disabilities. Self Unlimited’s similar values and philosophy meant a merger between the two charities made sense, as the combined charity benefited from the wealth of experience and knowledge of both organisations.

Following the merger, Hft has gone from strength to strength, and now supports more than 2,500 adults with learning disabilities nationwide to live the best lives possible.

So although things have changed since the 1960s, what hasn’t changed is our desire to provide the specialist care and support that helps people to live with as much independence, choice, dignity and control as possible. Looking to the future, we are increasingly using the skills and experience of our staff to help people with the most complex, challenging needs.

Find out what we’ve been doing more recently.