Supported living networks

This page has technical information about how people can live in their own place in an ordinary area and be part of a support network.Community support networks are based on a small number of disabled people (up to about 10) who live in close proximity to each other. Each has their own home or flat although some may choose to share.

One property in the network is occupied by a part-time Community Living Volunteer. The worker provides a small amount of practical help to each member of the network, for example, help with paying bills, correspondence, organising appointments, getting the right benefits the worker is however also employed to bring members together and help them form supportive relationships.

There is also a Network Manager who supports the workers and also helps tenants with specific, possibly complicated issues like benefits. Each Network Manager will look after three or four networks. There is also an out of hours helpline.

The actual housing could be owned or rented and come from any source but in practice most networks are based on renting property from a local authority who want to have a community network established as an option in their area.

KeyRing is a relatively low support option. Network members usually have an individual care package; the Network Manager and Community Living Worker and other members are not expected to be the sole basis of care and support although it is possible for some people they could be.

How to access

KeyRing is the leading charitable provider of this type of community network and the best starting point to check whether there is a suitable network nearby - – and how to go about applying.

Pros and cons


  • Focus on abilities of network members; can contribute to feelings of self-esteem and value
  • Can be a way of addressing risk of social isolation of disabled people living independently
  • Non-institutional and promotes independence
  • Can get help in an emergency
  • Care and support separated from housing.


  • Schemes are not universally available and depend on a local authority taking the initiative to set up a scheme with KeyRing and provide funding. About 40 authorities currently have an established KeyRing network
  • So far has most often been thought of as an option for people with more mild or moderate disabilities
  • Require sufficient, suitable properties, fairly close together, being available at a similar time.

How the money works

The housing will be funded according to the type and tenure – most often via Housing Benefit. Individuals if they meet the criteria are likely to have an individual package of care funded through Adult Social Care and possibly the Independent Living Fund as community networks are based on the concept of each person having their own home and living independently. The cost of the staff and running the network is most likely to be met by a Supporting People Grant payment from the local authority.
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Learning Disability England
Birmingham Research Park
97 Vincent Drive
Birmingham, B15 2SQ, England
Tel. 0300 2010455
Learning Disability England
Registered company: 4233275
Registered Charity No. 1092587