As with a lot of Charities the founding story is often driven by an identified need and by someone or a group of people who want to find a solution to the need. Understanding and remembering the history is an important part of the culture of organisations and Life Path Trust is no exception. The early incarnation was called Coventry Homes and the early start of Coventry Homes was a self-help respite service.
Bill Lewis - The Caravan
Life Path Trust owes its beginnings in the early 1970’s to a collaboration between the late Bill Lewis (former chair)and a group of parents. Bill, inspired by a report on ‘Midlands Today’ about an innovative Short Breaks service in Northants, followed this up.
It led to fundraising for a caravan where a group of Coventry parents provided respite support by looking after each other’s offspring for a few hours at a time.
The caravan became very popular and the need started to arise for respite support to be longer. Coventry Homes Charity was set up in 1973 and rented a house on Dunchurch Highway so that respite could be extended to overnight and longer stays.
During the early 90s we were offered 2 Ellys Road which became our new respite house and still operates to this day as a Short Break service and still provides support to one of the founder families.
The Charity developed into Residential Support when a need was identified for people with learning disabilities who lived at home with ageing parents to be supported when their parents were no longer able to do so. Under the leadership of Ted Rusk and using properties which were made available to Coventry Homes from Midland Heart, Coventry City Council and acquisitions through legacies, the early residential services were registered as Care Homes.
We have been very lucky to have a significant benefactor - a local businessman called Mr A. E. Youell who gave Coventry Homes the Walsgrave Road Site from which we operate today.
Coventry Homes becomes Life Path Trust and Residential Services becomes Supported Living.
In 2000 Gary Bye joined as Chief Executive and it was at this time we changed our name from Coventry Homes to Life Path Trust. In 2001 the Government published Valuing People white paper which set new goals to support people with a learning disability to get homes and jobs and lead fulfilled lives.
In 2001-2002 we changed the registered residential homes into Supported Living Service and registered with CQC as a provider for personal care, following the goals within the Valuing People white paper. Life Path Trust developed a more Person-centred approach, using graphics and easy read to enable citizens to communicate effectively how they wanted to live their lives and have a meaningful contribution to the review process.
Life for the citizens changed away from communal residential support: They became tenants, they had bank accounts, cheque books and their own keys. Each person shopped individually and planned their meals with support to cook.
From 2007-2008 Life Path Trust was able to link with more landlords and Registered Social Landlords to enable more tenancies to be signed for citizens to continue living independently with their own front door.
In the early 2000’s, the Government announced that all people working in the sector had to be trained by new standards namely LDAF - Learning Disabilities Award Framework. It was decided then to found Coventry Training Consortium so we could train our own staff to a high standard which still continues. Life Path was involved in LDAF from 2005.
In 2012-2013, Life Path decided to involve citizens more in the running of the organisation and we developed the Citizens Board, Quality Checkers and involvement in Health and Safety and Recruitment. The Life Path Trust Citizens Board meets quarterly and is a direct opportunity for the citizens to have a dialogue with the Board of Trustees about the work of the Charity and to provide direct feedback via their representatives. The Citizens Board identifies issues which members want the CEO and the Board of Trustees to consider. The elected Chair of the Citizens Board attends every Board of Trustees meeting.
In 2012, we started to bid for services in Oxford and we gained three residential services. Later in 2015-2016 we acquired 2 day services and Oxford Day opportunities.
Further work on accessing Employment and Training Opportunities
In recent years we have been involved as partners (leading on learning disabilities) with Coventry City Council and other organisations including European Social Funded projects ConnectMe and Accelerate.
In 2017 sadly Gary Bye Passed away very suddenly. He is remembered for his total commitment to learning disabilities and to the citizens and families of Life Path Trust.
In 2018 Diane Perry joined as CEO and during the hot summer was able to enjoy hosting a BBQ at Walsgrave Road to meet as many citizens and families as possible. We may make this an annual tradition!
2018 -2019 has been a time for our CEO to understand Life Path Trust and recognise its history in the refreshed new brand and website. The Board of Trustees have now approved a set of Strategic Aims and Objectives to take the organisation into its next phase of work whilst still maintaining its commitment to the services we deliver.
Today Life Path Trust is the biggest care provider for people with learning disabilities in Coventry