Our history

Founded in 1937

Step One Charity is a non-profit organisation that provides support to people with mental health challenges, learning disabilities and neurodiversity across Devon. We have a long and distinguished history, dating back to 1937 when we were founded as St Loye’s College.


Early years

St Loye’s College
St Loye’s College was founded by Dame Georgiana Buller DBE, a visionary who believed that everyone deserves the opportunity to live a fulfilling life, regardless of their circumstances. Dame Georgiana’s vision was to provide support for people with disabilities to develop skills and achieve their potential, overcoming any barriers they faced in society.

Over the decades

St Loye’s College adapted its name (to St Loye’s Foundation) and how it supported people, providing residential training and tuition in a variety of areas such as occupational therapy, catering and office skills.

In 2015, following changes in government funding, St Loye’s moved from providing residential-based training to a more diverse range of support. This included working with Community Care Trust, a local charity with an excellent reputation for providing mental health services in South Devon since 1989. The merged charity rebranded as Step One in 2017.

Step One Charity today

Today, Step One Charity provides a range of support to enable people to manage their mental health and wellbeing and take positive steps forward to achieving their goals. We offer support through:

  • Recovery and rehabilitation at our independent hospital
  • Supported living housing
  • One-to-one support in the community
  • Self-management courses, workshops, peer support groups and activities

Step One Charity is proud to have a long history of helping people with mental health challenges to live their best lives. We are committed to continuing our work for many years to come.

Key milestones in Step One Charity’s history:

  • 1937

    Dame Georgiana Buller DBE sets up St Loye’s College in Exeter, Devon.

  • 1946

    Her Majesty The Queen becomes the Patron of St Loye’s College.

  • 1946 – 2008

    Over the decades, the college adapted its name (to St Loye’s Foundation) and how it supported people, providing residential training and tuition in a variety of areas.

  • 2008

    St Loye’s Foundation moves its headquarters to central Exeter and continues to provide residential training.

  • 2015

    St Loye’s Foundation moved from providing residential-based training to a more diverse range of support.

  • 2015

    St Loye’s Foundation merges with the Community Care Trust, a local charity with an excellent reputation for providing mental health services in South Devon.

  • 2017

    The merged charity rebrands as Step One Charity.

  • Today

    Step One Charity provides a range of support to enable people to manage their mental health and wellbeing.

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