Ategi’s 30th anniversary: Let's start from the very beginning...
In 1994, against the backdrop of change and reform in Wales, a small but determined group of individuals embarked on a mission that would reshape the landscape of care for adults with learning disabilities. The closure of Ely Hospital in the late 1980s ignited a spark of innovation and advocacy.
Chris Dowell-Bennett, one of that group of motivated and forward-thinking founders, and current Ategi trustee, reflected on Ategi’s early years with Chief Executive, Kate Allen.
Initially set up as the Cardiff Independent Living Company, Ategi established and empowered community-driven solutions, managed to address some complex social challenges during the 80’s and 90’s in Wales. We were able to offer a new life for individuals who had been marginalised and overlooked by society for a long time. The founders, fueled by a passion for social justice and inclusion, wanted to redefine the very fabric of care provision in Wales. Taking on the role of council-appointed advocates, they found themselves at the forefront of a movement—one that sought to dismantle barriers and build bridges to independence.
The transition from institutional care to Supported Living homes was not merely a logistical endeavour; it was a testament to the resilience and determination of those who dared to dream of a better future. There were many challenges and setbacks along the way. From navigating complex legal frameworks, securing funding and infrastructure, confronting entrenched stigmas and misconceptions to addressing the complex needs of the people we wanted to support. Yet, amidst the difficulties, there were moments of profound triumph that we still hold to this day.
As Ategi took its first tentative steps in the early 90’s, it faced scepticism and resistance from many communities. But amidst the uncertainty, there was belief in the cause and those who at first were sceptical were later advocating for us and the people we support. They started to realise the profound effect of what we were trying to achieve. They noticed that with each Supported Living house that opened its doors, a new chapter unfolded for the people we supported, and this enriched many communities.
As we celebrate our 30th anniversary, we reflect on the very humble place that we started, thanks to the dedication and resilience of our founders we are now able to allow many people across the UK to live life, their way. Today, we are looking ahead to the next 30 years, and we can do this with a renewed sense of purpose and determination—a commitment to building a future where every individual is valued, respected, and empowered.
Ategi would like to thank Chris Dowell-Bennett for his work all those years ago, and for his work now as a trustee to help safeguard Ategi now and into the future.