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WHAT IF WE COULD BUILD INCLUSIVE NEIGHBOURHOODS FOR PEOPLE WITH AND WITHOUT DISABILITIES?

We are a community driven initiative that builds inclusive, eco-friendly neighbourhoods for those with disabilities or special needs. We call them VSPs, meaning Very Special People – individuals who need that extra little bit of help to live independently.

Oak Tree Projects builds or renovates high comfort, ecological studios, with private bathrooms and kitchenettes and rents them at an affordable price. These ecological studios mean that VSPs can live independently, but with professional care from local care organisations.

Our co-operative was founded by family members of two of our first VSP tenants, so this started as a passion project for us. We saw that a lot of people with a care need had desires to live independently and yet, those that do are prone to experience loneliness and mental health issues. This is why we’re not just about building houses, but communities.

Oak Tree homes are embedded into cohousing projects made of 10 to 40 other houses which allows the VSPs to be part of a lively community with plenty of possibilities to socialise. This allows actual inclusion in society and furthers our mission to empower our VSPs.

FUNDING WOULD ALLOW US TO…

We believe that housing and a sense of belonging are basic human needs. With our houses embedded in cohousing communities, we can provide both. However, according to our residents, the greatest value we offer is the creation of opportunities and a positive perspective on the future which has come from the people who give up their time to spend it with our VSPs.

Today, Oak Tree Projects is run by one full-time resource and a handful of volunteers. With this limited workforce we are currently working on the creation of 16 new houses in which 77 VSPs can call home. Funding would allow us to hire extra resources, create a sustainable back-office, become self-sufficient, and double our impact.

MY SISTERS INSPIRED ME

I am the eldest of four sisters, and two of my sisters have a disability. One of them needs fulltime support – she lives in a care institution and she is happy there. My other sister however, had a dream to live on her own but this is not straightforward when you have a disability. In a way, it’s my sister who inspired me to become a social entrepreneur.

WHAT’S YOUR BLEND FOR SUCCESS?

The core business of Oak Tree Projects is more than housing. We focus on inclusivity through social care, by blending neighbours with and without a care need in a community. In that way blending is really at the heart of Oak Tree Projects.