The Cameron Trust

About the Trust

Our mission is to minimise overheads and red tape for investors, landlords and tenants. We want to enhance housing options for people with disabilities across the UK, whilst helping landlords and investors make informed, socially responsible decisions. Below is part of an interview Duncan Cameron gave to Disability Today outlining his original vision for the Cameron Trust and its work.

16th January 2011 - learning disability today

What is the Cameron Trust?

The Cameron Trust was set up because I wanted to do something through a charity rather than through my own name. When you're buying property it felt like the right thing – a nice thing – to do to put it in a context that would be there forever.

So we were making a commitment to have an ongoing facility rather than something you could pull the plug on.

Since we've gone down this route I ended up buying more flats in my own name. But before we even got any people into those initial four flats, the credit crunch happened, property became a lot cheaper and we thought this was something that was going to be an ongoing project.

We wouldn't want necessarily to keep all of the properties that I end up buying for the project though. We'd probably want to chop and change them a little because the idea is we'll eventually end up with pockets of three or four properties all over the place.

How does the Cameron Trust fit in with New Key's vision?

The idea was to have four flats and have different people in there with different needs for two years, to get them used to living in their own homes with their own care arrangements. New Key provides the support.

This gives people time to get a good plan together and decide what direction they want for their lives. We figured two years would be a good enough period to do this.

What challenges did you face in getting started?

The first flats we were going to buy couldn't be bought for a charity. It's quite a common thing on Victorian properties in Torbay, where our first flats were.

We were a week away from exchanging contracts on them when the solicitor phoned up and said: 'Do you realise they've got a covenant on them, which means you can't do anything charitable on them?' It was a weird one.

How does the project work?

The vision that Gary Kent had was that after you've had people living in rented accommodation for two years, you can then look at getting a mortgage on income support.

These people would then already have care packages sorted out, they would have paid rent monthly for a two-year period. So they'd have a track record, and then they should be able to get an income support mortgage that will set them up for life.

Is the two-year date fixed?

For some people they might need three or four years. So the good thing about the charity is we're not saying after two years you've got to go. What we're saying is that we're going to make this around the individual.

Some people might be quicker and they're welcome to leave quickly. Others might need a lot more input and a lot more development from an organisation to get to the stage where they're thinking about the rest of their life.

Also, the more individualised we can make that, the better. And we've got some really good examples, since people have moved into flats, of some really good work.

But these people have also built very good relationships with each other. So sometimes they don't rely on paid support at all – they rely on each other a little bit more.

How many housing blocks do you currently have?

Eighteen. Two lots of nine. The next thing we're looking at is about how you do individualised housing?

We didn't want to have big blocks of apartments or flats all rented out to people with learning disabilities or physical disabilities. We didn't want to create that type of 'apartmentised' care home feel.

Once people get a mortgage and a place of their own, would New Key still provide the support?

The idea is that people will take more control of their lives and employ their own staff teams. They might be New Key's staff teams now, but in five years the people might employ them. They would then have their own individualised staff teams.

New Key would then support them in a different way, which is around recruitment or helping them appraise their staff, or different ways like that which they could pay for individually.

But they'd have brought their staff in, they'd have that control. So the control is with them. They'd have gone from somewhere they don't want to live to somewhere they do – like our flats.

When that happens, it's helping them build their lives. It allows them to make decisions about how they want to see their future. But the biggest thing is that it makes their budgets work better for them.

So that's what our total aim is and for people not to be reliant on the Cameron Trust and not to be reliant on the service organisation and not to be reliant on something else, but to take more control.

How would this work for private landlords in other parts of the country? Would they want to take on people with learning disabilities? We want to develop a business model so we can show private landlords they can make renting to people with disabilities work and be profitable.