Become a Small Supports provider

Our aim

We are committed to supporting autistic people and people with learning disabilities. We know that there are some people who may have spent time in secure hospitals (or other locked places), or who risk being moved out of our community and into more institutional settings that do not meet their needs. Sometimes this is linked to behaviour where people can hurt or challenge themselves or those around them; sometimes it means people have been in contact with the police or justice system.

Although we have a good range of services locally, we know that professionals in the community may have experienced difficulty in providing effective, appropriate support for them.

In order to be able to offer small, bespoke and person centred support within the community and people's homes, we have joined a national initiative to help these Small Supports to become established and thrive in Lancashire. You can find out more about the Small Supports initiative on the The National Development Team for Inclusion (NDTi) website.

Looking for passionate people

We are actively looking for passionate values-driven people who want to explore with us how to set up their own dynamic citizen-focussed great Small Supports organisation in Lancashire.

You will need to be tenacious, pro-active, flexible and good at problem-solving and building relationships! We want to work with you and this vision and values to create new quality, local and Small Supports that are run by people who are passionate about making a difference and supporting people to live a great life.

About Small Supports

Small Supports are small, local organisations who work with people with learning disabilities and or autism, who have experienced difficult or traumatic life events and who need a different approach to support them to leave hospital.

Providers must, without compromise, be able to listen, understand and build a relationship with people so that they can begin to live the life they choose with great support.

As a local area we have signed up to the principles of Small Supports agreed by a number of existing Small Support organisations. We are seeking to support emerging organisations that embrace all of these principles.

  1. From the first steps the person (and their chosen family and friends) has as much control as possible and there is a commitment to this control growing.
  2. The starting point to developing great support is the person’s aspirations about where they want to live and the life they want to have; conversation about support then follows from this. Compromising on control and aspirations is when things start to go wrong.
  3. Supporters (staff) are recruited by and around the individual. They don’t work across services. Staff are not a substitute for friends, community peers, co-workers and neighbours.
  4. People choose where they live and who, if anyone, they live with. People are the tenant or owner of their own home or perhaps live with family. There is a clear separation of housing and support.
  5. Funding is sustainable and is designed and used around the individual.
  6. Small Supports organisations stay with people. Change and challenges are expected so they don’t withdraw support or ‘sell’ services on.
  7. In their work, leadership, recruitment and actions, Small Supports organisations are rooted in their local community.
  8. The organisations stay relatively small. Knowing each person well means not growing by more than three to five people a year and finding a natural size where people are known and valued, and the organisation is financially sustainable.
  9. Small Supports organisations are developed around these practices. Taking some of these practices and making them aspirations within large, segregated services will not deliver the desired outcomes.

Setting up this type of support

We are initially looking to develop Small Supports with professionals who will work with a range of people in Lancashire who have learning disabilities and or autism and who may have mental health needs, a personality disorder or a troubled or criminal history and need support to be able to leave inpatient services.

What we are offering

Listening to people who use and offer services locally and to people who have developed Small Supports in other areas, we are working to better understand how the right kind of organisations can become established and what we can do to enable and encourage this.

To enable and encourage Small Supports, we will:

  • find and talk to local people who might be interested in establishing a Small Supports organisation
  • understand that these people will know how to offer great support but may not yet know how to set up and run an organisation
  • connect these people to established national Small Supports leaders and organisations and each other locally
  • help them to listen to the local people we are supporting as well as their families
  • work with them to understand and offer the business planning and development support that they need
  • work with them to meet support planning, quality and other training needs
  • help with registration
  • connect into national established and emerging great practice.

We understand that people setting up Small Supports might also need access to financial assistance or grant funding to help them become established. We are developing ways to make this happen.

To help us support emerging Small Supports organisations, we:

  • have established a small local team to work together to make this happen, to find solutions, reflect on what works well and co-produce Small Supports;
  • are part of a national development programme which gives us access to the leaders of established Small Supports organisations (Beyond Limits, C-Change, Positive Support for You and others) and development and process support from the National Development Team for Inclusion and the Local Government Association;
  • are working alongside other areas developing Small Supports;
  • have support from across health and social care;
  • are making necessary changes to ensure that people have choice and control of funding and commissioning of support to meet their aspirations;
  • will keep listening, above all.

Who we think might be interested in setting up a Small Support organisation

The people who have successfully delivered these kind of services tend to be people who:

  • have a background in providing or commissioning services, some are people with lived experience and family members
  • are committed to human rights
  • understand great support
  • understand community
  • want the challenge and opportunities of setting up and leading their own organisation
  • aspire to provide high quality, local support and remain small enough to ‘touch the sides’ of their organisation
  • understand when something is wrong and seek to change it.

Next steps

If you would like to know more about possibly setting up a Small Support organisation, please contact:

Amanda Topps, Project Lead on


Jon Blackburn, Lead Commissioner on

Get support from a Small Support organisation

If you think that a Small Support organisation might be of interest to you or a family member, please get in touch for an informal discussion.