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natural ability

Natural Ability was the brainchild of two friends, Annie Sanders and Janice Walker, who had a vision of creating services for people with learning disabilities which would be centred around choice, respect and equality.


The Day Farming service was  set up in 2009 to provide a great choice for people with learning disabilities who enjoy being outdoors and active. It was developed by a group of energetic people, some of whom are parents of people with learning disabilities. The Independent Supported Living Service followed soon after, providing bespoke services for individuals in the community.


Natural Ability has grown to provide ISL and day services to more than 20 individuals and we would love to support more. We build on people's strengths and aspirations helping them to learn, gain skills, make friends and be included as valued members of the community. We work with children and adults with long term mental health needs and physical disability. 

Natural Ability now employs more than 50 staff in the thriving ISL, Day Farming and Handyperson Services. We are proud to employ a competent, experienced and passionate workforce.


We want to create an environment where people with learning and other disabilities live and work as valued and contributing members of the community. Providing people with an excellent quality of life with purposeful employment, lifelong learning and pride in their achievements.

We provide opportunities for people with learning and other disabilities to learn through challenge and well-managed risk, doing meaningful work, having fun and with a sense of personal autonomy.


In 2019 Natural Ability was awarded an overall 'Good' rating with 'Outstanding' in the 'Responsive' category by the Care Quality Commission. The Inspector noted that, "people and relatives said that this was an exceptional service that really had the best interests of people at it's heart. They described the support received as 'life enhancing' and 'outstanding'. The exemplary values of the service promoted people's independence and meant they lived meaningful, fulfilled lives." 

Also in 2019, Natural Ability won the 'Uniquely North East' award at the North East Charity Awards.

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our team

Board of Directors:

Bruce Howorth (Chair), Robert Philipson, Michael Quinn, Moya Holmes and Daisy Gardener.

Chief Executive Officer - Nicola Crawford 
Business Development Manager - Janice Walker

Finance Manager - Kathy Lowe

Day Services Manager - Suzanne Keen

HR Advisor - Michelle Sharman

Senior ISL Manager - Fiona Carlile

ISL Managers - Jemma Carlile and Joe Hartshorne

Activity Supervisors Kirsty Falcus, John Wallace and Fiona Geraghty assist the Day Services Manager in organising and leading the Horticulture, Animal Care and Conservation Day Farming sessions and the Handyperson Service.


We also have a dedicated team of support staff working in each of our services.

Have a look at these websites...


We are delighted to work with the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Partnership promoting and protecting this very special place.

Allen Valleys Community Website: local information about the Allen Valleys area.

We have excellent links with Hexham Priory School, which is an Ofsted "Outstanding" Special School in Hexham. 

In It Together - a group of parents of children and young people with a disability/additional need in Northumberland.

The Safe Network: Safeguarding advice, resources, training and guidance.

our supporters...


We are very grateful to our supporters and funders who include:

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