In L'Arche Liverpool Linda is one of four people with learning disabilities who live in a purpose-built block of flats.
Everyone in the block lives in a ‘self contained’ flat with their own front door. The landlord is a Registered Social Landlord and each person has a tenancy agreement in their own name for their flat. Also in the block is a ‘sleep in’ room for the assistants so that there is always some support available and a communal living area so that people can get together and share time and activities if they wish.
Linda has the flat she has always dreamed of, as part of a community, where a network of established relationships support her to take risks and to grow. In return Linda in her independence brings a new richness and diversity to community life.
This type of independence has always been embraced by L'Arche. People with learning disabilities in the London, Kent, Edinburgh, Inverness, Ipswich and Liverpool Communities are living in their own flats and yet are still very clearly part of their local L'Arche Community, with all the relationships and informal support that brings.
Veronica from the London Community says "I need my own space. It’s my dream."
In the Kent Community, Vince lives happily in his own flat. "It means I can eat when I want to," he says.
George moved into his own flat in Edinburgh. He had been keen to have his own place for a long time. The move has given George the domestic independence he craved. "Doing the washing up, doing the bed, doing the floor is best. I put my sheets in the washingmachine. You press the button and put the powder in and that’s it, it takes the muck away."
There is a natural tension between independence and a desire for community. What we all need is a balance between the freedom of independence and the security of community.
John Redwood, Community Leader in Edinburgh says "Independent living for people with and without learning disabilities may imply freedom, opportunity and happiness but the reality can be very different. We may think we long for independence, when we really crave a form of interdependence: a place of our own but supported by a network of relationships and activities that keeps us connected and engaged with the world."
"We would argue that the ideal is interdependent rather than independent living. It is the relationships that George has already established in L’Arche and the wider community that protect him from isolation and loneliness."