L’Arche was founded by Jean Vanier in 1964. The son of a former Governor General of Canada, Vanier served during World War II with the Royal Navy and then with the Royal Canadian Navy.

In 1964, Jean became aware of the plight of thousands of people with learning disabilities who were institutionalised in France. In that same year he took the radical step of inviting two men, Raphael Simi and Philippe Seux, to leave the institution where they lived and share their lives with him. Together they began L’Arche in a small house in Trosly-Breuil, France.

In 1968 the first L’Arche community in Canada opened. Gradually, more communities were founded around the world by people inspired by Jean's work. Jean remained the leader of the Trosly-Breuil Community until 1981 and lived there until just a few weeks before his death.

He was an inspiring teacher. Until February 2020 we believed his life was a testament to a radically different way of living and being in the world.

Jean died on the 7 May 2019.

On 22nd February 2020 an independent Inquiry commissioned by L’Arche International revealed that Jean Vanier had sexually abused at least six women without learning disabilities. The Inquiry report and international and national response to this revelation can be found here: https://www.larche.org.uk/news/inquiry-statement

Internationally, nationally and locally we are processing the Inquiry.

What remains true and at the heart of L’Arche is the discovery that people with learning disabilities have a great deal to contribute to society and, by living in intentional community with people with and without learning disabilities - living with diversity and difference - we open ourselves up to be challenged and to grow.