Housing advisory service Housing Options and supported living charity the Association for Supported Living have merged to create a new learning disabilities membership organisation, the Housing and Support Alliance.
The new organisation brings together commissioners, housing and care providers, carers and advocacy organisations with combined budgets of £3bn to represent over 75,000 people with learning disabilities.
Set to officially launch at the Working Together conference on 22 November 2012 at the Manchester Conference Centre, the Housing and Support Alliance (H&SA) will have a board of up to 15 non-executive directors, be led by a chairperson and will employ 1.5 staff.
H&SA will offer free independent advice, information and resources on housing, supported living and rights. The Association will also campaign for better housing, support and rights for people with learning disabilities, and commission and conduct research.
Members will have access to expert support from specialist advisers by email and telephone, and the use of a members-only website with factsheets, resources and technical briefings.
Housing Options chair Karyn Kirkpatrick said: “Our two organisations have a long history of collaborative working and we share the same values. We believe that by joining together we can create something that is more than the sum of its parts.
“The memberships of both [organisations] increased in the last 12 months and both are in a reasonable financial position independently, so there is not a financial imperative for the merger. That said, it will result in a more efficient use of resources.”
Kim Foo, the Association for Supported Living chair, added: “Almost every big service provider in the country is already a member, alongside many local authority commissioners and advocacy organisations. We’ll be able to extend our services, including the free help and advice line, to a much wider group.”
Yesterday H&SA met with a number of umbrella groups in the provider sector as part of a Department of Health initiative to drive up quality and accountability in services for people with challenging behaviour.
Housing Options and the Association for Supported Living were founded in 1996 and 2004 respectively.