Client Spotlight – Future Directions CIC

Our client spotlight focuses on Future Directions CIC, a not-for-profit social care provider based in Oldham. Future Directions was originally set up in 2012 as a subsidiary of Calderstones NHS Trust, and spun out to become a separate entity in April 2015. It is a values-based organisation that believes by living out its values it makes a real difference to people’s lives. We spoke to MD Paula Braynion about the organisation’s journey so far, the challenges it has faced, and plans for the future. Paula previously worked in the NHS as a Director of Operations, Deputy Chief Executive and Director of Nursing.

Paula B  Paula Braynion

What does Future Directions do?

Future Directions provides care and support to people with complex needs including learning disabilities, autism, mental health, forensic histories, acquired brain injury and dementia. It provides support to people in their own homes as well as the community, and is flexible in how much support it offers – from a few hours a week to 24-hour support.

Why choose the CIC model?

A CIC is a Community Interest Company, a type of limited company which exists to benefit the community rather than private shareholders. These were introduced in 2005 and have proved a popular model ever since, with an estimated 10,000 registered in the first ten years of existence. Future Directions is able to operate as a company – with the ability to hire staff and have its own governance structure – without the more stringent governance demands required of a charity. The regulatory regime is less intense, meaning that the organisation can be more efficient and cost effective.

Legal assistance

When, by April 2015, it made sense for Future Directions to become a separate legal entity, the organisation turned to Hempsons for advice on the process. Hempsons’ Charities and Social Enterprise team is highly experienced leading on spin-out projects, covering bodies with multi-million pound contracts through to smaller organisations with smaller budgets.

“Hempsons were invaluable in helping to explore the different models initially, and then to assist with the legal formation and set-up. They worked with both boards through the separation process and made it as seamless as possible for all parties.”

When asked if she has any advice for organisations considering a similar move, Paula says: “Go for it!” She describes the process of becoming an independent CIC as “the best thing that ever happened to us”, describing Future Direction’s increased responsiveness to commissioners’ needs, its ability to adapt to new developments in the social care sector, and the opportunity to live out its own values, which were all key factors in the decision.

Expansion plans

Based in the North West, Future Directions has a successful growth strategy that involves growing incrementally and expanding outwards, providing the organisation with financial resilience in challenging times. The organisation has doubled in size since becoming a CIC and now has 70 locations across the North West. It supports over 350 people and employs over 750 staff across these locations. Future Directions has been awarded the ‘Good’ rating by the CQC, and an ‘Outstanding’ in the ‘well-led’ category.

The CIC has won national awards for:

  • Best employer for over 250 staff –Skills for Care Accolades (2015/16)
  • Making a difference award –National LD and Autism awards (2016)
  • Driving up Quality Award (2016)
  • Best Employer (Not for Profit) –National LD and Autism Awards (2017) 

Future Directions, as well as offering support across a continuum from outreach support in peoples’ homes to supported living also offers specialist services such as transforming care services that enable people to gain their independence back in their local communities.  Future Directions is currently working on new exciting growth projects with commissioners, families, housing partners and advocates. These include a young persons’ autism service and a living project to promote independence for people with low to moderate needs.

Progress made on Winterbourne

One of Future Directions’ major aims is to provide a creative response to the 2014 ‘Winterbourne View – Time for Change’ Report which suggested radical changes to the way in which people with learning disabilities are treated in the UK. Future Directions has successfully created several transforming schemes that promote peoples’ independence and enable people to integrate back into their local communities. Winterbourne View Hospital was discovered, in 2011, to be the site of physical and psychological abuse inflicted on people with learning disabilities in the public funded hospital, and after a Panorama investigation exposing the abuse, the hospital was shut down. The ramifications were widely felt throughout the social care sector.

Paula reflects that while significant progress has been made since the publication of the report, more can still be done. “More focus is needed on developing community solutions, and more resources are needed,” she comments. “It’s crucial to get it right, to make a difference to people’s lives.”

At the end of our interview, Paula is heading out of the door to a ‘Bring Your Dog to Work Day’ gathering in the park; a regular opportunity for people supported by the organisation to enjoy playing with pets they might not be able to keep themselves, and another example of how Future Directions is working to improve the quality of life of its clients.

For more information about Future Directions, please visit

future directions logo

For more information about how Hempsons can assist your organisation, please visit

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