The first Cheshire Home was established in the UK in 1948 by Leonard Cheshire VC. Cheshire Homes in South Africa is affiliated to Leonard Cheshire International in London.
There are now more than 500 service centres in 57 countries around the world. Cheshire Home Summerstrand (opened in 1975) is one of 16 service centres in South Africa, and one of three in the Eastern Cape.
Leonard Cheshire, from whom the organization’s name derives, was a bomber pilot in World War 11. After his war experiences, Leonard Cheshire felt a strong need to validate his life, and was drawn to the idea of service to others.
Although this desire was constantly on his mind during the following years, it was only in 1948 that it started to take concrete form – and then by chance. Leonard heard of a fellow service man, terminally ill, who was in dire straits, with no family, no means, and nowhere to go.
Leonard took him in and cared for Arthur until his death. From such a small and unplanned beginning was the world-wide Cheshire organization to grow. Today there are Cheshire organizations and Homes all over the world.
Cheshire Homes started in South Africa in 1965. A visitor from the United Kingdom, holidaying in Durban, realized that there was a desperate need for a service for disabled people in this country. She made contact with community leaders, committees were set up, and Cheshire Homes South Africa took its first tentative steps.
The first Home, Queensburgh, was opened in 1968. Today, there are six Branches and sixteen Homes in this country, providing residential accommodation to severely and permanently disabled adults and children.
In addition, many outreach programmed provide services such as day care, respite care, community base care, soup, kitchens, crèche type care. These outreach programs operate from established Cheshire Homes.
There are also a number of independent living units attached to Cheshire Homes, where those residents who are sufficiently confident can live as independently as possible, secure in the knowledge that expert care is within call.
Cheshire Homes continues to grow, and hope in the future to offer more wide ranging services in response to the needs of people with disabilities.