The Orchard Project

We’re aiming to raise funds towards the cost of our new specialist autism service in Ugley

Vulnerable young people with learning disabilities and autism do not always have access to the appropriate accommodation and support that they need, limiting their opportunities to live freely and independently. Hundreds of young adults are trapped in children’s services which can’t meet their needs, while some are living in their family home with relatives who can’t cope with their challenging behaviour. Eventually, when their living arrangements become impossible, a lack of specialist services provision often means the only option is admission to an Assessment and Treatment Unit (ATU), which are only designed for short-term secure placements. But more and more young people without a clinical need for such environments are forced to stay for months, or even years, simply because appropriate provision is not available to them.

Over 2,200 children and young adults are currently confined to an ATU unnecessarily.

They’ve lost their freedom and everything that was familiar to them. Boredom, frustration and anxiety usually worsen challenging behaviours, which can lead to physical restraint, seclusion and sedation becoming more commonplace. Contact with those caring for them and family and friends can be limited, adding to the isolation.

Something needs to change, urgently.

We’ve sought input from people with autism, those who support them and Dr John Biddulph, leading expert in autism and the built environment, to create specialist homes which will support the sensory, social and physical requirements of people with complex needs and autism.

The Orchard Project appeal

We’re creating six purpose-built, specialist homes and a supported living service so young adults can move safely out of inappropriate settings into an environment where compassion, practical support and gentle encouragement are at the heart. And we need your help.

An investment of around £2.2 million will be needed to build the Orchard. Hft is providing an initial £800,000 and is looking for those who share the same vision to help us to raise the remainder.

This will allow us to build an environment that is designed to meet the sensory needs of people with autism, to keep them safe, and minimise their anxiety. Our vision is a place where young people can feel safe. With nurturing support they’ll feel cared for and know that they matter.

In time, they’ll feel confident to move on from The Orchard and achieve their ambition to live more independently.

With your support, we can help vulnerable young adults rediscover their joy, find a sense of purpose, and fulfil
their true potential. The Orchard aims to give everyone freedom, choice and confidence.

A supportive environment…

Autism affects a person’s sensory experience, imagination, social communication and interaction with others, and their environment makes a significant difference to their quality of life. Each of the six homes at The Orchard will be built with design features that avoid unnecessary and intrusive sensory stimuli that might cause high anxiety and lead to challenging behaviours.

A range of carefully designed special features will:

  • Give young people the chance to socialise in a shared space, at their own pace
  • Let individuals manage their level of privacy so they can connect with others only when they want
  • Give a sense a freedom, avoid conflict and prevent feelings of being trapped, to minimise anxiety
  • Provide the choice between stimulating and calming surroundings so individuals can keep a healthy balance and avoid overwhelm.

You can find out more about autism here.

…and specialist support

At Hft, we have vast experience of working with people who are high on the autistic spectrum.

We’ll place a highly trained team of specialists to support every resident. We’ll listen, understand their needs and provide person-centred support based on our Fusion Model, our unique and innovative way of supporting someone with a learning disability. It gives individuals more control over their lives and helps them enjoy greater levels of inclusion, independence and choice.

Help us open the door for young adults with autism to live the best life possible.

The Orchard will be one of only a handful in the UK. It’s desperately needed.

Will you help us?

Donate today