We recently celebrated Croft Communities (Croft) 40th anniversary milestone, marking four decades of providing living options to disabled people in the North Down and Ards locality. Over forty years ago, a small group of visionaries came together with a shared dream of building a community that would be home for people with disability. They worked tirelessly to lay the foundation of what would become the vibrant and thriving place we know today as Croft. The aim of Croft at its inception was to provide accommodation in a homely and caring environment, and a commitment that the residents would achieve their full potential in the community. 

Croft officially opened in 1984 with eight long-term residents, with one short-term respite service in place. Since its establishment in 1984, it has provided living options services for disabled people, committed to providing person-centred support that empowers individuals to live their lives with dignity, autonomy, and purpose.

Elaine Armstrong, Chief Executive Officer of Cedar said 

“Since 1984, Croft has evolved and grown. Currently there are 28 tenants in supported living, 9 residents in Residential Care and 40 people who access our Day services. The respite facility in Croft Lodge serves around 70 families within the locality. Today, we celebrate not just our achievements, but the connections we have made and the memories we have created over the years. As we look back over the past 40 years, we are reminded of the power of community and how our shared vision of an inclusive society for all can be achieved”.

For four decades, Croft has remained steadfast in its commitment to providing person-centered care and support services that enable individuals with disabilities to lead fulfilling and enriched lives.

Claire Irwin, Head of Living Options at Croft said:

“We believe that people with disabilities are the experts in their own lives, and that they should be at the forefront of decision-making. This is why we have worked tirelessly to build partnerships with our residents, involving them in every aspect of our operations.

Collaborating with our residents, we can create a future where everyone has the opportunity to live life to the fullest. We have seen how our residents have become members of their communities, pursuing their passions and interests with confidence and purpose. Most importantly gaining independence and autonomy and living life on their own terms. We believe that by collaborating with our residents, we can create a future where everyone has the opportunity to live life to the fullest.”

To commemorate its 40th anniversary, Croft hosted special celebration event on Friday 7th June 2024 welcoming over 100 guests to the event. The celebration focused on a series of reflections from guest speakers on Crofts 40 years. The main highlight of the event was a series of celebrations co-produced by the residents. Residents spent time planning and organising the activities such as ‘The Best Dressed House’ whereby residents festooned their homes with decorations to celebrate the event, a visit from Summer the Therapy Pony, a demonstration from The World of Owls and entertainment of their choosing – making this a celebration for those who call Croft their home.

Resident of Croft, John Bowden said

“I love it here, the staff are so kind and it is a great place to live”.

Councillor Jennifer Gilmore presented Croft with a ruby red rose bush as a commemorative anniversary gift.

Grainne Donnelly, Choice Housing spoke at the event highlighting the success of partnership working, stating that: 

“The residents at Croft have built a closeknit community, building friendships and creating a supportive network through social activities. Our partnership with Croft is an essential element of maintaining the sustainability of supported living schemes like that at Croft.”

The event concluded with an acknowledgement to all the incredible people who have made Croft what it is today. Gratitude was paid to the founding committee, residents, staff, and partners who have been instrumental in shaping the journey over the past 40 years. It was highlighted how their dedication, passion, and commitment has made all the difference. The event closed with a huge congratulations on 40 years of Croft and a future commitment on the provision of opportunity, choice, and inclusion to those who call Croft their home.