Inclusive Community Development works with and for people with learning disabilities and/or autism to navigate the education and care systems and to ensure clear and ambitious progression pathways.
Our two founding directors, Gary and Cindy, formed ICD in June 2020 after a year of discussion about using their combined skills and experience to improve the lives of disabled young people.
How our story started...
Our story began as Cindy came towards the end of raising her autistic son (Luke) to adulthood and worked with him to initiate a supported internship at a local social enterprise, Changing Lives in Cheshire. This is where she met Gary, who was the founder and (then) Chief Executive. Luke never lets them forget that he introduced them and they owe him one!
Over the next year we shared our experiences…
Cindy had worked for the preceding 20 years in the charitable sector specialising in disability support, advice and education. In addition, she also volunteered in support groups, her local Information Advice and Support Service, and on disability-related projects with her local authority. Alongside raising her own son, with all the issues that entailed, she increasingly worked directly with families who struggled to navigate the complex education and social care systems. Cindy soon recognised that, whilst every stage of a disabled child’s development has its own unique challenges, the transition to adulthood was particularly difficult. Lack of choice, lack of ambition and a lack of really listening to the young person’s voice frustrated her - she wanted it to change.
Gary had been working in the community sector for 20 years, mainly founding and then running social enterprises and helping support other organisations through his work with Cheshire & Warrington Social Enterprise Partnership, and more recently, Cheshire West Voluntary Action. Much of this work involved giving people a chance, including those with learning disabilities, to gain confidence, skills and experience working in a real and hardworking environment.
What happened next
It was obvious to both Gary and Cindy that their combined skills could (and should) make a difference. Utilising the combination of lived experience, knowledge of disability, community involvement, gaps in services, contacts and experience of setting up businesses and social enterprises, they formed ICD with the aim of improving outcomes in disabled adults - both for those already in adulthood, and for those on their journey. Motivated by Luke’s experience, they’re passionate about enabling disabled adults to achieve the lives they aspire to.