How learning disability charity transforms lives of young adults

At its 25th anniversary party, Langdon's chairman talks about its positive impact on his own family


Guests at Langdon’s 25th anniversary party on Tuesday were able to enjoy a close-up of some of the capital’s iconic sights from the vantage point of the ninth-floor balcony at City Hall.

And, for the charity’s chairman, Jonathan Joseph, the horizons for Langdon members are now as broad as the vista at the venue.

Langdon helps young adults with mild to moderate learning difficulties to lead independent lives through housing, employment and social opportunities.

Mr Joseph is well placed to appreciate its life-changing potential for both members and their families as his daughter Gabs, 30 this year, has been with Langdon for almost half her life. Initially she attended its Manchester college where she acquired life skills such as numeracy, shopping and rudimentary cookery.

She has lived in the charity’s accommodation in Edgware for around 10 years and Mr Joseph says her “serious activities” include assisting at the local All Aboard shop and United synagogue — “she has become expert at franking mail”.  She also works at New Chapters, a Langdon enterprise selling second-hand books online.

He feels his daughter is “miles better” through her involvement with the charity. “The five days a week she is in Langdon, she’s busy and there are contemporaries around. Unless people like Gabs have an opportunity to live in a place like Langdon, they just don’t fit.

“When they did live at home, many of our members lacked life experience and did not make friends easily.”

Like other family members at the celebration, Mr Joseph, who works in property regeneration, also highlighted the difference Langdon had made to his own life.

“For a lot of parents, having a child with special needs knocks them for six.

“My wife [a lawyer] and I need to work and like to work. I freely admit that if we did not have our daughter in Langdon, I just don’t know what kind of life we’d have — or what life our other children would have.

“It also lessens the burden on siblings who might otherwise feel they would have to take on the responsibility after parents die.”

Langdon has just over 100 members and Mr Joseph expects that number to grow by around five per cent annually.

At a time of tightened statutory budgets, he stresses that “every charitable pound donated to Langdon is multiplied five or 10 times by the benefits it has for society”.

Although a small charity, Langdon “feel we have a wider responsibility” and there are ambitious plans for a project in which those studying for a career in the special-needs field would come into Langdon to supervise and train both members and those with learning difficulties in the general community.

The celebration was hosted by London Assembly member Andrew Dismore, whose wife works for a learning disability charity. “What I like about Langdon,” he told the JC, “is that it recognises that people with learning difficulties are entitled to the same life chances as everyone else. And, with support, they can succeed.”

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