To mark our 45th Birthday week we would like to share with you the story of Guideposts and our services.

In the early 1990's Guideposts Trust separated from Guideposts the Housing Association, following a change in legislation. Guideposts Trust were determined to continue their work supporting people with mental health issues and learning disabilities; the question of how to go about this required careful consideration.

Guideposts decided that the best option was to open two day service centres; Henry Smith House in Watford in support of people with mental health issues, and 5-7 Cross Street in Ware for people with learning disabilities.

A rent free property in the centre of Ware was made available by the Local Authority. All Guideposts had to do was to raise the funds to refurbish and fit the property.

In 1993, after sufficient funds were raised, the Cross Street hub was opened by Kenneth Kendall, BBC Television newsreader and Vice President of Guideposts Trust at the time.

The hub provided as is still the case today, personalised support that aimed to empower adults with learning disabilities, to make their own choices and live life independently.

Part of the premises had previously been used as a shop. It was decided to refurbish the shop area for the sale of whole foods and name it 'Guideposts Good Foods'. The idea of the shop was to give people with learning disabilities a unique opportunity to access a 'Training for Work' programme. Here they could learn aspects of the retail trade and gain the skills such as cash handling and customer service to support the prospect of future employment.

The 'Training for Work' programme still exists today and promotes the development of social skills, as well as employability skills. Those who attend can experience a supported real work experience; with employers such as Premier Inn and Paradise Wildlife Park, while making friends and interacting with members of the public.

A friendship scheme was also developed. This primarily involved training volunteers to befriend adults with learning disabilities. Once paired the volunteers and their friend with disabilities have the opportunity to share a range of leisure activities, get out and about in the community, enjoy social gatherings and visit local attractions. Twenty three years on the scheme still exists thanks to a recent grant from The Big lottery Fund, now called More Friendship 4All.

Our Cross Street hub is a hive of activity. The people we help can access a range of support including money management, community activities, leisure, friendship, access to education, employment skills, life and communication techniques, independent living support and relaxation in our multi-sensory room.

Guideposts hubs enable the people we support to feel and be an integral part of their community. They give people the chance to experience a quality of life that most of us would take for granted. If you would like to know more about the work and history of the Cross-Street hub or need support for learning disabilities please go to their web page here