Hansel has been providing services to people living with learning disabilities since it was founded more than 50 years ago.

The vision and drive for Hansel’s beginnings were provided by Isobel and Tom Murdoch.  Their daughter, Lindy, had Down’s Syndrome and they were, naturally, concerned for her future, especially in the longer term.

They were inspired by the work of Professor Tizard who, in the late 1950s, had demonstrated that children with learning disabilities realised their potential better in a more natural, domestic environment than in the hospital environment which was prevalent at the time.

When the Broadmeadows Estate came on the market they seized the opportunity to establish this model of care in Scotland.   The estate was bought in 1962 and in early 1963 Hansel Village was established as a Scottish Charity.

Through the hard work, determination and vision of the Murdochs and numerous supporters, many of them also parents of children with a learning disability, Hansel grew and developed into a fully integrated community providing residential care, education, sheltered employment and leisure opportunities.

The nature of Hansel changed over the years in response to changes in society as a whole and changes in the aspirations and expectations of people living with learning disabilities and their families.  The number of residential places reduced, as people increasingly chose to live in their own homes outwith the Village, and community based services increased.

These changes lead to the name ‘Hansel Village’ being dropped in 1998.  Residential care remains a positive choice for some people and we continue to offer this at Broadmeadows and in Prestwick.  However, the majority of our work now involves community based supports with clients living in a wide variety of settings.  The Broadmeadows site remains central to Hansel, though we now also have offices in Stevenston and Kilmarnock and a residential service in Prestwick.

Lindy Murdoch was supported by Hansel in a variety of ways throughout her life.  She passed on in 2011 in Crail House at our Broadmeadows Estate, a residential service offering specialist support to people who develop dementia.  Her parents did more than most to build a future for her and in doing so they built a future for her peers and for generations to follow. For many years Lindy’s sister, Blanche Nicolson, continued the family’s involvement in Hansel, retiring from her role as our Practice Development Director in August 2016.

Much has changed since Isobel and Tom Murdoch started Hansel’s journey:  society has changed dramatically; the rights and wishes of people living with learning disabilities are more widely respected, and the aspirations of people living with disabilities are higher and more fully expressed.  Hansel has developed and evolved in tandem with these changes; we have grown into a major Scottish Charity, recognised as a leader in learning disability service provision.  Our values, however, have not changed and Isobel and Tom Murdoch’s vision lives on as we continue to support people to make the most of life.