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New social enterprise to run Somerset’s learning disability services

Discovery Latest
7 April 2017

Dimensions Group has been awarded a ground-breaking contract by Somerset County Council to establish Discovery, a newly created social enterprise, which will support the Learning Disability Partnership Service (LDPS).

Developed following extensive consultation with customers, staff, family members and others, Discovery breaks new ground in the evolution of Learning Disability Provider Services and is expected to be watched closely by local authorities around the country. Following an intense operational effort, 1300 staff and 900 customers successfully transferred over to the new social enterprise on April 1st.

Lorna Wilson, one of those staff who transferred across, said “After years of uncertainty about the future of our service it feels really good to be involved in this exciting opportunity. A chance to create a new way of providing high quality services for people with learning disabilities and autism in Somerset. Change is needed but we have to go through it in order to meet our current and future customers’ needs.” Discovery will be a Somerset based charity, initially for Somerset people. It is governed and run locally, reinvesting over half of any profits back into the local community. It will apply for accreditation via the Social Enterprise Mark and its Managing Director is a member of the Dimensions Group Executive team.

Luke Joy-Smith, Discovery’s Managing Director, said, “This innovative structure has led to the creation of a locally focused and locally accountable not-for-profit organisation that benefits from the quality and cost efficiencies of a leading national learning disability support provider. I have no doubt that it will lead to better support for people with learning disabilities and autism throughout Somerset.”

“Dimensions is leading the way nationally in successfully supporting people out of long stay hospitals and back into their local communities. Discovery reflects Dimensions’ commitment to delivering support rooted in national best practice across the county whilst being directed by, and responsive to, local pressures and priorities.”

Dimensions also seeks to improve opportunities for all people with learning disabilities and autism nationally. Its autism friendly screenings are shown in 250 cinemas across the country and it is working with libraries nationally to make their services autism-friendly. The organisation is also currently leading #ImWithSam, a national campaign to tackle hate crime directed at people with learning disabilities and autism.

Joy-Smith added, “We are delighted to be working with Somerset County Council to deliver high quality services for people with learning disabilities and autism. Discovery will help the council maintain financial sustainability whilst enabling local people with learning disabilities to have greater choice and control, to get involved with their communities, to find paid employment and get more from life.”

Steve Scown, Chief Executive of parent company Dimensions, added: “Somerset County Council ran a competitive and challenging bidding process. Their quality expectations are high and Dimensions is looking forward to further developing the county’s support for people with learning disabilities through Discovery, so they can contribute to their communities and lead fulfilling lives.

“It’s no secret that local authorities up and down the country need to look at everything they do so that they are running services as efficiently and effectively as is possible. Discovery breaks the mould of how local authorities can work in partnership with providers and we look forward to being able to demonstrate and share significant successes in the months and years to come.”


Notes to the Editor

For more information, interviews, and case studies contact Duncan Bell, Brand Marketing Manager at Dimensions, on (e) (t) 0300 303 9062.

Visit the Dimensions Group website.

About Dimensions

Dimensions provides evidence-based, outcomes-focussed support including sector leading positive behaviour support for people with learning disabilities, autism and complex needs. We help people to be actively involved in their communities.

As one of the country’s largest not-for-profits supporting people with learning disabilities, autism and complex needs, Dimensions is driven by its values. People with learning disabilities and their families are at the heart of everything we do and we want every person we support to have a great life, with excellent outcomes.

We are always working to improve standards – our own and across the sector. Dimensions was one of the pioneers of personalised support, showing how it works in practice and enabling thousands of people to have greater choice and control.