Linda outside new L'Arche homes

Linda will have the flat she always dreamed of as part of a community, a network of established relationships which will support her to take new risks and to grow

In L'Arche Liverpool Linda is one of three people watching with special interest as a purpose-built block of flats slowly takes shape. Everyone in the block will have their own front door and a lease in their own name. There will also be a flat for assistants, so some support will always be available. Linda will have the flat she has always dreamed of, as part of a community, where a network of established relationships will support her to take risks and to grow. In return Linda in her independence will bring a new richness and diversity to community life.

This type of independence has always been embraced by L'Arche. People with learning disabilities in the Lambeth, Kent, Edinburgh, Inverness, Ipswich and Liverpool Communities are living in their own flats and yet are still very clearly part of their local L'Arche Community, with all the relationships and informal support that brings.

Veronica from the Lambeth Community says "I need my own space. It’s my dream."

In the Kent Community, Vince lives happily in his own flat. "It means I can eat when I want to," he says.

A year ago, George moved into his own flat in Edinburgh. He had been keen to have his own place for a long time. The move has given George the domestic independence he craved. "Doing the washing up, doing the bed, doing the floor is best. I put my sheets in the washingmachine. You press the button and put the powder in and that’s it, it takes the muck away."

There is a natural tension between independence and a desire for community. What we all need is a balance between the freedom of independence and the security of community.

John Redwood, Community Leader in Edinburgh says "Independent living for people with and without learning disabilities may imply freedom, opportunity and happiness but the reality can be very different. We may think we long for independence, when we really crave a form of interdependence: a place of our own but supported by a network of relationships and activities that keeps us connected and engaged with the world."

"We would argue that the ideal is interdependent rather than independent living. It is the relationships that George has already established in L’Arche and the wider community that protect him from isolation and loneliness."