Centre 404 has a long history of innovation and enthusiasm for developing relevant services for people with learning disabilities and their families. We were founded by a group of carers who met monthly to promote the well being of their children, and to fight for improvements in provision for their children and other families like them.
In the 1960’s, the group set up clubs and activities for people with learning disabilities run by volunteers and went to on become Islington Mencap. These clubs provided opportunities for people to do new things, challenging the notion that people with learning disabilities were “uneducable”. The clubs became an important way for people with learning disabilities and their families to socialise and make friends.
For several decades the organisation was run by a group of highly dedicated volunteers. During this time, one of the parent founders and a successful businesswoman bought the Victorian building at 404 Camden Road. A team of volunteers continued to offer support by visiting families in their homes. Parents met at 404 Camden Road to socialise and learn how to help their children develop their potential. It was not until 1999 that we appointed our first paid Director.
From the early days parents got together to campaign for rights and services and we developed the first nursery in Islington that worked directly with children with learning disabilities. In the 1970s education for disabled children and children with learning disabilities became a right. Parents in Islington started campaigning for local supported housing provision and in the 1980s we set up the first supported house in Islington for people with learning disabilities.
Over the last fifteen years our family support team has expanded their services and we now offer a comprehensive information, advice and advocacy support service to families throughout all stages of their lives and the lives of their children. This service is a vital source of support for family carers who often have little knowledge of their welfare rights. We offer social events such as family fun days and outings as well as training for parents and professionals alike.
In the 1990s we extended our Learning and Leisure Service to provide additional social, educational and recreational activities for adults and children with learning disabilities, we now offer 11 group activity sessions ranging from after school activities to our Men’s group and a Friday night social club at our centre. We are also currently developing new group activities for those with personal budgets.
In 2010 we started to develop services to assist those who receive a Personal Budget or Direct Payments. We now work with family carers and adults with a learning disability to understand how this works and to set up and source individual services that meet their needs. We also set up a Personal Support Worker Finding and Matching Scheme that helps people to find trained, experienced and friendly support workers and to choose services and activities that they want to do.
The rapid expansion of clubs and activities over the last twenty years has been very successful but has put heavy demands on our building. We have just completed a major refurbishment in order to develop our current activities, improve accessibility and secure the future of our Centre. See more about our journey on our blog at http://centre404.wordpress.com