Scarce employment opportunities, poor support in making the
transition from childhood to adult life, and lack of provision for
minority groups are all key challenges facing people with learning
difficulties, writes Maria Ahmed.
But one charity tackles all three problems at once with
Langdon, a registered charity, provides employment opportunities
alongside education and housing with a Jewish-specific focus.
The charity has made entering employment – paid or unpaid
– a condition of joining its scheme, with the aim of moving
young people on from “dependency to independence” into
the mainstream community.
Helping the transition period
With the imminent opening of new accommodation for five young
people in north London, it will be building on the achievements of
its Manchester project which has been running since 1993.
The charity started out by providing services for just six young
people in Langdon College, the UK’s only residential
specialist college catering for the Jewish community, and Langdon
Community, a network of flats and houses in north Manchester.
It now supports around 50 young people aged 16-30, helping them
to make the transition to independent living through providing them
with the opportunity to work.
The charity has now opened a flat for two people and is due to
open another three-person house in north London, the heart of the
British Jewish community, next month.
Work opportunities have been arranged for four of the young
people in administration, child-care, retail and catering.
Barry Welck, one of the founders of Langdon, and chair of
trustees, says the charity is focused on independent living.
“This is not just about keeping people warm and
comfortable, it’s about giving them a real social life and a
real opportunity to work. We don’t want to see people sitting
in front of the TV for 52 weeks of the year. We want them to be
The size of the housing scheme is also key to promoting
independence, Welck believes.
“It is better to have two or three people in a flat or
house, with visits from care staff, rather than six people in a big
house with care staff living downstairs,” he says.
Lead by example
All the flats and houses keep a Kosher kitchen and Jewish
cultural life is on offer to residents.
Around half of its referrals come through social services, and
the rest from the Jewish community, often by word-of-mouth.
The scheme caters for young people with a broad range of needs
including those who may need constant one-to-one support to those
who only require 2-3 hours of support a day.
While Langdon takes people up to the age of 30, with the hope that
they will be able to live in the mainstream community once they
have benefited from the scheme, there are plans to look at a
Welck hopes the project could provide a model for others:
“It is our belief that we should lead by example, and that
drives us forward.”