The legacy of the London Olympics and Paralympics is in full-swing in Islington, as a charity which is dedicated to working with adults with learning difficulties has shown with its full sports program at its Islington base.
The Elfrida Society works with adults who have learning disabilities, offering them and their carers the opportunity to take part in various projects that the society has created. Their mission is to make it possible for people with learning difficulties to manage as much of their lives as they want and feel able to do, whilst learning new skills, making friends and becoming more independent.
Ian Godley, head of Elfrida Society’s sports program, says “Our main aim is to improve the health and wellbeing of our users, and we’re using sport to improve self-esteem issues and to improve life skills and work at their confidence. We’re also into social networking, making friends and removing those social barriers so that they’re not so isolated. Our Groups are open to everyone with aged 16 or above, no matter what their learning disabilities.”
Founded shortly after World War I by Elfrida Rathbone, Elfrida’s sports project is now funded by the National Lottery and their projects extend all the way from cricket to football, with some more unusual sports such line-dancing also undertaken. The sports project is just one of many projects at the Elfrida Society that work to support and improve the lives of local residents with learning disabilities.
“We also used to have Cycling going which we did with Pedal Power, an organization which is based in Islington who offer lots of bikes for everybody, no matter their needs or disabilities including wheelchair bikes.” Ian said. “They’re running again from Saturday in Finsbury Park. We took a winter break, and are hoping to get going again in the spring time again.”
Elsewhere at Elfrida’s sports project, they also offer sports like Boccia, in which they play in the league run by Boccia England. “We have 2 Boccia groups on Mondays and Wednesdays,” Ian said, “but we realise that not everyone is competitive or into competitive sport like football, so we try and introduce other things like dance or walking, giving a variety for everyone.
“We also do Netball at the Sobell Centre whom we work closely with, tennis at the Tennis Centre in Holloway and cricket as well, as we are involved with a cricket club called Islington Icons.”
Support is not only available from Elfrida however, as charity Turningpoint is another national health and social care provider which provides support for people with mental health difficulties and learning disabilities.
Tim Hutchison, who works at TurningPoint, said “We run particular sports and it is part of our treatment and our services. We have such a wide variety of services that these depend on the sort of people we see as to which service we offer.”
While speaking on the subject of how they source sporting opportunities for people who contact their organisation, he commented that “they would all be local sports clubs and local organisations that we [TurningPoint] would connect with – if not, there is someone within our service who organises it [who our users would go to]”.
Elfrida works with these other charities to ensure they can offer the best service to users who come to them for help: “We work in partnership with other organisations and it works very well that way.” Ian comments. “On saying that, the Elfrida Society are very individual and quite a unique charity themselves so we all have different traits, strengths and skills. It’s all about looking at what our users need and what they want as well.”
For more information, the Elfrida Society has a full timetable online at Elfrida.com or you can contact them directly by calling 020 7359 7443.