Our history

Our history

In 1990 a guy with a bit of common sense and a lot of determination set up KeyRing. His name was Carl Poll. He asked people with a learning disability what they wanted from life.

At the time many people were being told that they couldn’t possibly do this or that. And they certainly couldn’t live on their own. When Carl asked these people what they wanted from life, they overwhelmingly said that they wanted their own front door.

They wanted support when they wanted it and the option to say no when they did not. ‘Sounds reasonable’ thought Carl so with some equally forward thinking people in Wandsworth, London, he set up the very first KeyRing Network.

We started by providing support to people with learning disabilities. Then in 2006 we decided that everyone deserved access to KeyRing support. Today, around two thirds of the people we support have a learning disability and we also work with people who have mental health issues, people who experience homelessness, older people, people with addictions and other people. We’re not keen on labels but we know that they help people decide whether we are right for them, so we work with them. The people and the labels.

We continue to change people’s lives and challenge what people can do, as well as what others think they can do.

Why We Do It

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Today our Chief Executive Karyn Kirkpatrick continues to build on this work.

Wooden house and figure

"KeyRing originally came about from talking to people with learning disabilities about what they wanted from life. Time and again people say they want their own home, to be free to live life how they want, to have friends, romance and families. Social Care limitations mean that people have to show need, disability and lack of resources in order to get support. These two positions are incompatible; everyone has something to offer.

"KeyRing create an environment that offers just enough support, through peer support, volunteer support and skilled community enablers. It is built upon the skills, knowledge, and experience of the people we work with (Members) and their networks. In the same way, we are working with many others through Think Local Act Personal and #SocialCareFuture, with our Local Authority partners and our community partners.

"The world we want to see is one where people are at the heart of their communities, sharing skills and talents for the whole community’s benefit. We are keen to share our experience and approaches with Local Authorities, organisations and groups."

Email or call us to find out how we can work with you.


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