Our History

As part of Learning Disability Executive of Lewisham and North Southwark Health Authority, we established the first services in Lewisham in 1984, in response to the closure of the Victorian Institutions that dominated social care for Learning Disability for most of the last century.

In 1993 we left the Health Service and became an independent Non Profit making organisation. By that time we had grown, and were providing 24 hour daily living support to 26 people and learnt lots of lessons. We developed a range of skills that allowed us to improve the service we gave and gradually develop other services to meet people’s needs.

Access for Living now has over 30 years’ experience of providing non-institutionalised residential support to people with a range of learning disabilities, including multiple disabilities and challenging behaviour.

Our Approach Today

At present Access for Living is the largest single provider of daily living support in Lewisham. We currently provide 24-hour support to 42 people living in 10 residential properties and outreach support to a further 35 people.

We specialise in providing tailor made support for each individual that enables them to live as independently as possible and access the same world and its opportunities as anyone else. Our intention is to do that for as long as is needed, giving continuity and reducing the person’s reliance on paid for support.

 We don’t want the people we support to be dependent on us for everything, but with support, to work towards and develop their independence in their home and community. For that reason, Access for Living doesn’t do employment schemes, group day activities or segregated group holidays. We support people to access the same meaningful opportunities in their life as those we all aspire to.

Our Service Values

Underpinning all of the Support we provide are the following 6 principles


People with a learning disability are part of the community and should not be separated from it, they should have equal opportunity in having easy access to shops, leisure and recreation, housing, education, health services, employment, Social Services and all other services that affect their life.


People with a learning disability should have the same opportunity to make choices and decisions about their lives as any other member of the community. With support to make informed choices and decisions and be supported in recognising and managing the risks and consequences of those decisions.


People with a learning disability have a right to develop a full range of personal relationships. To be involved with others as friends, relatives, colleagues, consumers, and to have sexual relationships reflecting their own choice. They also have the right to express their own preferences for friends, marriage, parenthood and parenting.

Dignity & Respect

People with a learning disability have a right to be treated with respect and dignity. Their services should be based on individual circumstance, choice and expectations, and developed with the person’s full involvement. The service user must be part of decision making, to be consulted, to be provided with all information and to have the rights of refusal and complaint through self-advocacy. People have a right to services which are appropriate to their needs.

Equal Opportunities

All people with learning disabilities experience disadvantages, which may be compounded for people from minority groups. All policies, procedures and practices should aim to address disadvantage. Differences of gender, race, disability, religion, sexual orientation, health or behaviour, will not lead to unfair differences in the services that we provide to people with a learning disability


People with a learning disability should have opportunities like any other person to develop skills throughout their lives, and be given the opportunities to apply those skills to the benefit of themselves and their community.

If We Get It Wrong

If we do get things wrong, we would like to be told. All people we support are given a complaints pack. You can tell any member of staff and they will give you details of making a complaint to us if you wish to. Or you can contact us on the telephone number below. We do genuinely encourage people to complain if they’re not happy with something as it gives us the opportunity to improve.