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2 people side by side on a dancefloor enthusiastically dancing and playing air guitar

Our story

While we do not know the exact founding date of Innovate Trust, we do know that our incredible journey began in the early academic year of 1967. Every year, on July 13th, we celebrate our birthday.  On this day in 1974, we established the first supported living home in the UK, forever changing the way Learning Disabled people receive care and support.

In 2017, to mark our 50-year anniversary, thanks to funding from Heritage Lottery Fund, Kieran Vass and Georgia Oliver, with support from colleagues and the people we support, researched documents, filmed stories and established permanent records with local archives and museums to preserve our important history for future generations.

2 people side by side on a dancefloor enthusiastically dancing and playing air guitar
A volunteer and supported individual smiling. The photo is black and white.

1967 – The student action era

Innovate Trust started as a volunteering project called Cardiff University Social Services (CUSS). This project was open to all Cardiff universities, based at the Joint Students Union Building on Dumfries Place.

At the time, CUSS shared an office with Cardiff Student Community Action (CSCA), now known as Skills and Volunteering Cymru (SVC), our sister charity.

Volunteers played an important role in supporting adults and children with Learning Disabilities at Ely Hospital. They supported them in going on day trips, learning new skills, and providing company.

Innovate Trust and Cardiff People First retell the story of Ely Hospital

Cardiff People First Radio – Innovate Trust and the story of Ely Hospital

A group of volunteers from Cardiff People First created a radio show in partnership with Innovate Trust, recreating a real-life story from some of the residents at Ely Hospital in the early 70s, who were supported by Cardiff Universities Social Services (CUSS) and later went on to be supported by Innovate Trust in the UK’s first supported living home.

Quick Fact

A Team of Volunteers
0 Employees
0 Supported Living Homes

Original volunteers and supported individuals outside 21 Ruthin Gardens, the first supported living house

1974 – The first supported living home

After the success of the early volunteering project, students felt that more could be done to help people with Learning Disabilities have better independence.

On the 13th of July 1974, a group of three student volunteers and five adults with learning disabilities, previously housed at Ely Hospital, moved into 12 Ruthin Gardens in Cathays. During the day the group home tenants would spend their time at Trelai adult training centre whilst the students were attending lectures. Supported Living and Social Care would not be what it is today without the pioneering work of a few student volunteers who cared and five adults with Learning Disabilities who fought for their right to live in the community.


Jacqui speaks about her time volunteering in Cardiff Universities Social Services’ pioneering home for people with learning, where students lived with them as friends. She mentions the conditions at Ely Hospital at the time and a memory of one of the first train journeys for one of the tenants.


Mary explains her role in CUSS’s group home, sharing her memories and stories as a social worker and what it was like working with the first tenants at 12 Ruthin Gardens, in Cathays and how she went on to spend her career supporting people with Learning Disabilities in a professional capacity.