OPINION: Kisharon Langdon represents a brave new vision in learning disability and autism

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OPINION: Kisharon Langdon represents a brave new vision in learning disability and autism

With the potential for 13.5% more of donor monies for frontline services, Kisharon Langdon CEO Richard Franklin writes about the largest communal merger in almost 30 years

Claudia, who is supported by Kisharon Langdon
Claudia, who is supported by Kisharon Langdon

It is now some four and a half years ago that Langdon’s excellent outgoing CEO, Neil Taylor, and I met to discuss what seemed then to be a distant prospect of merger.

Neither of us had any concept of the literally tens of thousands of hours it would take to bring what seemed to be a simple idea to fruition – of what has now become the Kisharon Langdon merger.

The case for merger was made by the thorough 2020 Cordis Bright report funded by several communal organisations and generous philanthropists.

It concluded that our learning disability and autism organisations would find themselves in an almost impossible position over the next 15 years with 12% average annual growth in increasingly complex demands – set against little to no increase in real terms in an already perilously underfunded social care environment. Our charities needed to work ever-closer together to make each pound of income stretch further.


Following an honest, open and collegiate period of dialogue with Norwood, Gesher and PaJeS, the best way forward was for Kisharon and Langdon to further explore options.

This was due to the comparative sizes, areas of specialism, geographical distribution, and diverse supporter networks – and clear prospective benefits to the communities the organisations respectively served.

It took a further year and 10 dedicated work streams supported by the professionalism of Micah Gold, Natalie Grazin and their assembled Mobilise Public consulting team to consider each part of the respective organisations and how they might best work together.

The inescapable and unanimous conclusion for respective trustees was full merger.

This was further sense-checked by people we support, their families and donors in independently held specialist focus groups who reached similar conclusions – while recognising the enormity of the challenges that lay ahead.

The inevitable economies of scale mean 13.5% more of donor monies may be applied to front line services, which also appeals to an increasingly impact-conscious donor community.

There are undoubted benefits of being the largest specialist dedicated Jewish learning disability and autism provider. There is the increased breadth and range of offering to a broader cohort, attractive to skilled practitioners, which is also more attractive to local authority commissioners.

The inevitable economies of scale mean 13.5% more of donor monies may be applied to front line services, which also appeals to an increasingly impact-conscious donor community.

However, the largest communal merger in almost 30 years is not without risk. It relies on each of us recognising and acting on the absolute urgency of support for people with learning disabilities and autism.

For too long, they and their families have suffered the iniquity of being forced to fight their corner in a scandalously underfunded social care environment, where the political attention is all too often focused on elder care and the impact on the NHS.

People with learning disabilities and autism have rights – as equal citizens – to learn, work and live with dignity as valued contributors in our community. The Kisharon Langdon merger is a proactive and brave vision realised to ensuring those we support can thrive.

  • Richard Franklin is CEO of merged Kisharon Langdon
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