Linkage Co-Founder Wins National Award

The learning disability charity, Linkage Community Trust, is celebrating a top national award.

Co-founder Rex Richardson was named the winner of the Outstanding Contribution honour at the National Learning Disabilities and Autism Awards 2015, held in Birmingham. The award is presented to an individual who is judged to have made a long-term, outstanding contribution to the lives of people with a learning disability and/or autism. The event, at the International Convention Centre, was organised by the British Institute of Learning Disabilities and Care Talk magazine.

Rex, the Director of Care Services, set up Linkage almost 40 years ago with colleagues Don MacKenzie and the late Dave Sampson to give a new future to young people with learning difficulties. After extensive planning and fundraising, they opened the first specialist residential further education college in the country, at Toynton All Saints near Spilsby, Lincolnshire, in 1979.

The judges hailed Rex’s record of 40 years in Linkage as a champion for the rights of people with learning disabilities. As a founder-member of Linkage, his drive and commitment to establish high-quality education, care and vocational opportunities for clients has challenged and changed the way services are developed. He developed personalised services before such person-centred planning was conceived. He also fought for people with learning disabilities to have the same rights to a fulfilling life as everyone else – including a job – when attitudes were only beginning to change in the wake of the 1974 Education Act.

Rex says: “I feel very honoured to win such an award on behalf of a dedicated team at Linkage. For almost 40 years, we have played a huge part in the lives of people with learning difficulties, challenging decisions made by Government and taking steps into the unknown.”

Thousands of students and clients later, as Director of Care Services, Rex continues to challenge and change the status quo. He manages a service which supports more than 250 people in 70 properties across Lincolnshire and Staffordshire and assists more than 80 people in job club and supported paid employment. As well as supporting more than 70 people to move into their own tenancies, he was also a Government advisor in the development of the 2014 Care Act.

Linkage Chief Executive, Ges Roulstone says: “The vision that Rex, Don and Dave had for learning disability continues to be valued some 40 years on. This award is so well deserved for Rex’s work as a champion and campaigner. The fact that he knows the background, skills and aspirations of every one of his clients encouraging them to continually progress speaks volumes.”

ENDS
Picture: Rex Richardson with (left) Ann Chivers, chief executive of the British Institute of Learning Disabilities, and Steve Walls, compere.

Notes to Editors:

Linkage Community Trust is a charity based in Lincolnshire, which delivers high-quality specialist education, care and employment support services to learning disabled people. Its 38-year history has established Linkage as a major provider in delivering flexible services, which promote personal autonomy, independence and achievement. The aim is to ensure that learning disabled people have the same rights and opportunities for inclusion, fulfilment and feeling valued in society as everyone else.

Linkage College is rated outstanding for student outcomes by Ofsted and accommodates both residential and day students, aged primarily between 16 and 25, at our Lincolnshire campuses. Linkage Care Services offer residential care, supported accommodation and respite care facilities in more than 50 properties across the county and beyond. Our Employment Services work in partnership with more than 140 employers to support learning disabled people into meaningful and sustainable work.

Linkage Community Trust is a registered charity no. 504913, company number 01240377. For more information, visit www.linkage.org.uk<http://www.linkage.org.uk> or follow us on Twitter @LinkageCT.

Press information: Tony Barker, Communications and PR Manager, 01522 503188, mobile: 07515 851834, email: [email protected]

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