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.
The fact that we are a boat club and that we are based in Islington could lead one to make the assumption that we are an affluent organisation exclusively for the elite, however this could not be further from the truth.
At Islington Boat Club, we pride ourselves on being a place that is fully inclusive to all who wish to access it, whereby people can come to learn, improve their health and socialise through safe and affordable water-based activities.
Upon visiting Islington Boat Club one would be likely to encounter a youth from a disadvantaged background looking to find a way to keep themselves from a life of crime, an older person popping in for a paddle and a cup of tea as a way to avoid isolation or an individual with special needs looking for an opportunity to feel valued and to be a part of something.
In order to sustain our immensely valuable work and continue having a positive impact on our community, we rely heavily on donations.
Islington has the third highest level of child poverty in London – there are 15,000 people living in Islington families where nobody works. Many of these young people can find themselves feeling like their life choices are limited and in some cases can find themselves making negative decisions with serious implications such as exclusion from school or lawful intervention. The Youth Club at Islington Boat Club aims to provide young people with a platform whereby they can engage in watersports, establish and develop friendships and gain qualifications.
We run a large youth club – with 80 regular participants, peaking to over 300 participants over the course of the year, including 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.
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. Through engaging in our youth club we believe that we can support young people in order to find pathways out of poverty, exclusion and disadvantage and instead put them on the pathway to self-development and
Over-50s (UpperDeckers programme)
Within a year since we started our over-50s programme, over 400 people had attended our Upperdeckers programme, with a substantial core of regulars attending each week.
The focus of this programme is to put at end to the stigma that people should be limited by their age and that ‘you can’t teach an old dog new tricks’. A key problem in the borough of Islington is social isolation and poor health amongst the older members of the community, these people are coming invisible and being forgotten by society and at Islington Boat Club we have deemed that now is the time to stop this happening.
Our Upperdeckers programme invites all potentially isolated older people in Islington and the surrounding areas to come along and socialise with one another and to learn new skills whilst having fun and living their lives to the full, thus providing dramatic mental and physical health benefits.
In addition to engaging in watersports activities such as kayaking and narrowboating, the Upperdeckers programme also prevents opportunities for participants to take part in various social gatherings with their peers such as picnics in the park and also allows access to other opportunities such as volunteering in our other initiatives, therefore widening their social engagements to include intergenerational activities and be part of the strong community that is Islington Boat Club.
People with disabilities (All On Board programme)
Our All On Board programme has been successfully running for over 3 years now, during which time we have engaged and supported approximately 800 young people with disabilities, learning difficulties or mental health issues (we have worked with people affected by autism, ADHD, cerebral palsy, PTSD, depression and deafness).
The focus of the programme is to provide participants with opportunities for enjoyment and socialisation whilst engaging in various watersports activities. Ultimately, where possible we aim to enable the transition from AOB in to the mainstream young group so that participants can be integrated. However, integration is not compulsory and we are able to develop individually tailored programmes to suit the needs of each participant.
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.
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!"
All On Board parent
"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."