Our charity is a well-known institution situated on the Regent’s Canal, the second largest open space in Islington. We have used this space to provide a lifeline to vulnerable people in the local community for almost 50 years.

Youth Club

Islington has the third highest level of child poverty in London – there are 15,000 children living in Islington families where nobody works. We run a large youth club – with 280 regular participants, peaking to 600 participants during the summer and half-term holidays – aiming to support as many young people as possible.

The youth club runs three times a week during the term and every weekday during the holidays. We address personal and social development through the medium of watersports. Participants can take part in canoeing, kayaking, powerboating, narrowboating, swimming and mountain biking. Our youth club members learn new skills that are transferable to their social and educational networks. We also organise regular off-site trips so young people can broaden their horizons and test themselves in more challenging environments. Our charity helps young people find pathways out of poverty, exclusion and disadvantage.

Over-50s (UpperDeckers programme)

In just over a year since we started our over-50s programme, over 400 people have attended the various activities with a substantial core of regulars attending each week. This programme reaches isolated people in our community and gets them involved in kayaking and narrowboating, while learning new skills and having fun – with dramatic mental and physical health benefits. Our charity can and does make a real difference to the social aspect of their lives. 

In addition, UpperDeckers members often volunteer in our other initiatives, such as the youth club, creating a strong sense of community at Islington Boat Club.

Participant testimonial
In Islington, we are surrounded by the very rich but also the very poor and deprived. To have a club that offers their services for free or at a very low cost enables the less privileged children and adults to join in with something that is way out of their reach!

People with disabilities (All On Board programme)

In less than a year, our All On Board Programme has supported over 200 people with physical disabilities, learning difficulties and mental health issues (we have worked with people affected by autism, ADHD, cerebral palsy, PTSD, depression and deafness). We run a weekly All On Board after-school club on Thursday evenings and we also cater for booked group sessions. Participants have reported increased confidence, a sense of well-being, self-esteem and decreased isolation. There are tangible physical health benefits, with participants that have physical disabilities reporting a vast improvement in strength, coordination and general fitness.

Parent testimonial

Both of my children attend the boat club each week and enjoy going there very much. The staff are very good with the kids, Sarah (Rex) especially. They anticipate needs in a timely fashion and keep my children motivated, and they have learned a lot of new skills. The activities provided are varied and interesting and my children have been able to make friendship networks for the first time in their lives - which is a wonderful thing to witness. The environment is warm and welcoming. I cannot praise the boat club too highly - it has been a godsend and long may it continue.

George 18 (autism), Carly 17 (autism)

Elizabeth Keable-Elliott