How we began
Leonard Cheshire Disability was founded by the late Group Captain Lord Cheshire of Woodhall in 1948.
By then a famous war hero, at the beginning of that year he was living alone in an isolated mansion in Hampshire winding up a community project for ex servicemen and women which he had started at the end of the war. Discovering that one of the former members of the community was terminally ill and had nowhere to go, he offered to care for him in his own home.
To his surprise, he found others in need coming to him for help and so started what was to become a worldwide organisation developing services for disabled people.
|Le Court Cheshire Home|
The second Cheshire Home (as they were then known) was opened a couple of years later in Cornwall, and then the third in Kent. Each of these projects followed the same pattern: inspired and encouraged by Leonard Cheshire himself, local communities came forward asking for help in setting up a service for themselves, they formed administrative committees, moved into whatever remotely suitable accommodation presented itself, and then set about fundraising for development.
By 1955 there were not only five services in the UK, but the first overseas project had also been started outside Mumbai in India.
|Leonard Cheshire in Cape Town|
The 1960s was a decade of rapid expansion. By 1970 there were 50 services in the UK, five in India and a Leonard Cheshire project of some sort in 21 other countries across the globe. Now well established as a pioneering provider of care services, the organisation began to diversify the nature of the care it offered, and the early 1970s saw it trialling a care in the community project on the UK south coast. Rolled out successfully, the project became our Care at Home Service which is just one of the many services now offered by Leonard Cheshire Disability.
Today, we create opportunities with thousands of disabled people and their carers through over 150 services in the UK. Services provided by the organisation include care at home, residential services, respite care, day services, resource centres, independent living units, and services for people with an acquired brain injury.
Internationally, Leonard Cheshire Disability services continue to grow, and there are now over 250 services in more than 50 countries around the world, including day care, skills training and rehabilitation, independent living and residential care. Leonard Cheshire Disability also operates an International Self Reliance programme, which aims to help disabled people in developing countries become financially independent by providing loans to set up small business enterprises, funding vocational and professional training courses, improving access to training institutions, running disability awareness programmes and developing training and employment centres for disabled people.
The rest of the section looks in more detail at the life of our founder, and at the Leonard Cheshire Disability Archive which holds a wealth of information on him and on the development of the voluntary organisations he founded.