Hill Park Autistic Trust

A brief history of Hill Park Autistic Trust

Following the merger of Pepenbury with Hill Park Autistic Trust the company is now known as Larkfield with Hill Park Autistic Trust Limited. All services continue to trade under the name of Pepenbury, including those in the London Borough of Bexley.

The origins of Hill Park Autistic Trust date back to the mid-1980s when the Education Authority in England and Wales lowered the age at which autistic children could be funded from 25 to 18 years. At this time there was a dearth of provision for more able autistic adults who were able to function within a supported environment.

The only alternative for them was to return to live with their parents or to be allocated residential placements unequipped to cater for their specialised needs. In response to this lack of residential accommodation, a group of parents formed the charity known as Homes for Able Autistic Adults (HAAA) in 1986, following a meeting at The Helen Allison School in Gravesend.

The charity conceived the idea of a home for six people on the high end of the autistic spectrum and, after extensive fundraising, organised the construction of Frank House which opened in 1991. This was with the help of Bexley Council and a local housing association.

At that time, legislation prohibited a charity from managing a residential scheme so Hill Park Housing Association (HPHA) was formed as the managing agent of Frank House and, later, its outreach service.

The ethos of the charity has always been to help autistic adults achieve their fullest potential with the aim of enabling them to function confidently within the community by teaching them social and other necessary life skills.

In 2006, in view of considerations for expansion and due to changes in Charity regulations where previous restrictions were repealed, HPHA decided to make an application to become a registered charity and change its name to reflect this. As a result Hill Park Autistic Trust was incorporated with charitable status in July 2006, while continuing to perform the previous responsibilities of HPHA.

Since merging with Pepenburythe company is now known as Larkfield with Hill Park Autistic Trust Limited but all services now  trade under the name of Pepenbury including Frank House in Erith and the supported living outreach service. Six supported living flats in Erith are also in the process of being developed.