Opening Doors is Yarrow’s volunteer project funded by City Bridge Trust, supporting people with learning disabilities to access art, sport and cultural activities in London.
It’s all about making sure that people take a full and active part in their community and get to try lots of new and exciting activities.
The success of the project is driven by our wonderful volunteers, many of whom have a learning disability themselves. The project links up volunteers with people with a learning disability to share each other’s knowledge and passions.
This year Opening Doors is aiming to offer 400 opportunities in total – that’s more than 30 every month. They run sessions on healthy eating and travel training, as well as arranging lots of outings to the many opportunities our city has to offer.
Volunteer coordinator, Helena Reed, tells us about some of her highlights from the last year:
“We have been to Mike’s Table supper clubs, where we had lovely dinners with our volunteers and Yarrow members. Mary was so inspired that she went on to do her own supper club at The Gate. This was really popular and a great social opportunity for people to come together over delicious food! We’re planning to run more of these:
We took a fabulous trip to Brighton earlier this year, spending a full day and evening in the seaside town, including watching The Gate member Darren, AKA 2Decks, perform at the Blue Door Club. It can be a rare treat for people with a learning disability to stay our late for a night out and we all had a wonderful time:
Sport is a big part of what we do here at Opening Doors, because keeping physically active is so important for our self-esteem and mental health as well as our physical health. We have weekly sessions at our local sport centre in badminton, cricket, swimming and using the gym equipment. We’ve also tried our hands at rock climbing in partnership with the Westway Climbing Centre and Sense. It was a wonderful experience and gave everyone a real sense of achievement as they overcame their fears and succeeded in making a climb:
Another highlight from the last twelve months was seeing one of our volunteers, Maisa, who herself has a learning disability, secure a paid role with BLINK Dance Theatre. She now teaches a regular session. A fabulous achievement and recognition of her skills, well done Maisa!
Most recently we have been working on a project with Turtle Key Arts to film a new programme to be shown at JOY as part of the Hammersmith and Fulham Arts Fest this June . We’re so excited to see how the film comes out:
This summer we are taking part in the Mencap Round the World Challenge, and we’ll be tracking our physical activity through to the end of August and completing a challenge.
We’re also busy planning an event at our local park, Ravenscourt Park, and looking forward to a daytrip to Southend and a project with the teenage students from the NCS (National Citizen Service).”
Thanks, Helena! To find out more about the Opening Doors projest or to get in touch with the team, please contact them via Yarrow’s Central Office: yarrow.org.uk/contact/
You can also find out their latest news and photos of what they have been getting up to at their Twitter account.