Our history

Our history


ELCAP was established in 1989.  We became a company limited by guarantee in March 1989 and a charity in January 1991.

The 1989 government White Paper, Caring for People, provided the framework for social care in the 1990s and beyond. The key components of community care were:

  • Services that respond flexibly and sensitively to the needs of individuals and their carers
  • Services that allow a range of options
  • Services that intervene no more than necessary to foster independence
  • Services that concentrate on those with greatest needs

Our first Director was Linda Headland, who served ELCAP with distinction for 24 years.

Our initial purpose was to support individuals with learning disabilities to move from institutions – for example, hospitals and hostels – to our community.

The individuals we supported lived at:

  • Hopetoun, a 72 bed NHS hospital unit in Haddington
  • Prestonkirk, a 24 bed hostel in East Linton
  • Wedderburn, a 16 bed hostel in Musselburgh

We supported these individuals to move into small, registered group homes, accommodating two to four people.  Over time, we enabled them to move into their own homes.

Responding to need, we extended our services to allow us to work with individuals with a wider range of support needs.  In 1996, following local government re-organisation, we entered a long and successful partnership with East Lothian Council.  In the same year, we became an Investor in People.

Development and growth

As our organisation developed, we refreshed our approaches and extended our reach.

We stopped using agency staff to improve the quality and consistency of our care and support.  We transferred properties we owned to Castle Rock Edinvar Housing Association, allowing us to focus on our core strengths.  And we extended our services to Midlothian, establishing a positive and productive relationship with the local authority.

Looking to the future, we re-structured to reduce management costs and commit more of our expenditure to the front line.

In 2013, Linda Headland retired and Danny Harvie became our Director, and later, our Chief Executive.  Everyone involved with ELCAP was saddened when Danny, an inspiring leader, passed away in 2019.

In 2019, we celebrated our 30th birthday, with well-attended events in East Lothian and the Scottish Parliament.



Over three decades since ELCAP was formed, it is difficult to believe that individuals affected by learning disabilities once lived in institutional settings.

Now, every individual we support lives in their own home.  We enable them to live better, more independent lives within our community.

We are proud of what we’ve achieved over the years, but much remains to be done.

Our strategic plan has the following themes:

  • Enhancing the quality of our care and support
    We aspire to be a first-class provider of care and support services
  • Developing our workforce
    We aspire to be an excellent employer
  • Diversifying our income and making best use of resources
    We aspire to be a financially sound organisation, committed to sustainable development
  • Demonstrating our impact and raising our profile
    We aspire to be a charity which makes a social and economic impact
  • Connecting with communities and extending our reach
    We aspire to be a good neighbour

You can keep in touch with our latest news via our website and social media channels.