A History of Guideposts Trust – chapter 2

2022 is the 50th anniversary of Guideposts. To mark this special anniversary, we’d like to share the story of our charity: where we started from, the journey we have travelled so far, and a vision for the future of Guideposts Trust.

Although the way we deliver our work has changed over the years, the ethos and values remain the same: helping people build on their strengths, maintain their independence, achieve their aspirations, develop supportive connections and avert isolation and loneliness.

See part 1 of the story here.

2. Making the Vision a Reality

We pick up when Guideposts Trust has been established, and at the end of the first 12 months, founder Cliff Upex has raised enough money to turn the vision for the charity into reality.

The charity believed that those who had been in hospital for so much of their lives needed training to help them adjust to living in the outside world. When training had been given and appropriate accommodation was found, volunteer helpers were recruited to provide support and friendship. People could now be released from hospital to enjoy life in the community, being able to cope with daily tasks in a safe and supported environment.

These were the key objectives the Guideposts Trust set out to achieve:

  • Establish and provide support for homes, halfway houses, cluster flats and other such accommodation for those seeking rehabilitation in the community.
  • Offer caring and befriending support for people who are now living in the community after years of being in hospital.
  • Establish counselling centres for anyone facing mental health issues and/or at risk of being admitted into hospital.

Cliff set about the task of recruiting volunteers, working with hospital staff and organising training. He also had the idea of arranging for people, ready to transition from hospital, to come into small groups so that they could get to know each other and live together as friends.

By 1989, Guideposts Trust had 88 group homes, 18 staffed homes providing 200 bed spaces, and 104 flats.

At this time, the Housing Corporation decided that the charitable work of the Trust needed to be separate from Guideposts Housing Association. This was a disappointing development for Guideposts taking away one of its core aims. Guideposts Housing Association then separated to later become Advance Housing.

From Housing to Community Based Support…

Moving away from housing support prompted Guideposts Trust to rethink its approach in the early 1990s.

Supporting people with mental health issues and learning disabilities to live well in their community would remain a central objective for the Charity; however Guideposts needed to find new ways to do this.

The big question was how, particularly when funding was, as it is today, a critical requirement. This is when Guideposts Trust decided to appoint its first full-time fundraiser.

In order to maintain the provision of training, care and counselling, Cliff came up with the idea of establishing community centres now referred to as hubs. The first of our hubs was established in 1992 in support of people with complex mental health issues. Cliff had found a house in the Centre of Watford which, thanks to the generous support of The Henry Smith Charity, was fully refurbished to welcome people throughout the day. In gratitude of this support, the hub was named Henry Smith House.

Programme from the opening ceremony of Henry Smith House

The next opportunity arose to establish another hub, this time for people with learning disabilities, in the middle of a housing estate on Cross Street in Ware, East Hertfordshire, opening in 1993.

Both hubs still exist today alongside others that have since been established in Witney, Stroud and Gloucester. Each hub offers a range of support that reflects and adapts to local need.

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