The organisation will use the £1.1m funding to roll out the scheme fully in four local authorities, raising the number of people it helps to 20,000. Once it has tested the concept, it hopes to raise another £20m for the rest of the UK.
“You have to inspire ordinary people to do something extraordinary, and local authorities don’t have the resources to spread the word, which is why the investment will help,” Mr Fox said.
The money was raised from Big Society Capital, a social investment fund set up in 2012 to make it easier for charities and community groups to access finance; the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, the UK’s biggest investor in social impact bonds; and the John Ellerman Foundation, which has also invested £250,000 in Charity Bank to help charities access finance.
Social Finance, which facilitated the funding, said the scheme saved local authorities £26,000 per person each year, as it reduced the pressure on care homes. It added that there were 32,000 people with learning disabilities currently living in care homes across the UK.
A proportion of the money saved each year will then go back to investors, allowing them to make a return.
Lorna and Graham Trow, Shared Lives carers from Bedfordshire, have three women living with them: a young woman with Down’s syndrome; a 19 year-old; and a teenager with learning difficulties.
“They’ve acquired friends, they’re invited to parties, they have a real social life – same as everybody else. They’re independent but not alone,” the couple said.