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Bi-borough buddies

by Andy Naylor

While the weather in London has been pretty bleak, we’ve been out and about, getting our sunshine from the incredible organisations based in the boroughs doing wonderful things. A couple of weeks ago, we all went to visit Mencap’s Equal People centre in Kensington: a hub that provides activities, advice, and a place for adults with various learning disabilities to express themselves and pursue lots of different skills. We arrived at the end of a hard fought boccia game and were instantly welcomed and made to feel right at home. Once we had introduced ourselves and got the important stuff out of the way (basically whether Chelsea were the best football team and if Whitney Houston was the world’s best singer), we split into two groups and asked people questions about activities they enjoyed, things they would like to try, and also what groups they would set up if they could start their own.

We had some fantastic and really varied answers from giving DJing lessons to selling jewellery at Portobello Market, baking to playing guitar, and of course karaoke. The hour flew by and soon we were saying our goodbyes, already looking forward to coming back and following up on the brilliant suggestions we’d heard.

London four

Andy and Clare also popped along to meet the team at Pursuing Independent Paths (PIP) and joined a class of adults with various learning disabilities fresh off the back of an appearance on BBC One where they had all asked questions to Micheal Sheen! If they were disappointed that they were chatting with Community Catalysts rather than with a Hollywood star, they were very polite about it and we had some really interesting conversations about their plans for the future, from developing a TV company to rival Sky, singing Amy Winehouse songs in the Camden pub where she found fame, and putting on their own drama and cabaret shows; there was no shortage of enthusiasm or talent. It was a lovely way to spend an hour and we left enthused and excited by the passion that the students had shown for developing their own ideas, assisted by the incredible teachers and support staff at PIP.

Andy and Clare

Add to that meetings with prospective enterprises as diverse as martial arts groups, sea shanty singers, drama and art clubs, and make-up sessions in care homes, it’s fair to say that the project is up and running!

We’re looking forward to meeting ever more lovely people and organisations over the next month or two, and maybe getting to leave the umbrellas at home!