Meet LinkAble: the Surrey charity empowering those with learning disabilities
Since 1989 LinkAble has been helping children, young people and adults with learning disabilities by providing a range of sporting and social activities in and around the community. The charity, based in Woking, supports individuals with a broad range of learning disabilities, and offers a range of activities for all ages. This support is offered from early childhood with no upper age limit, enabling friendships to be developed and maintained, potentially for life – something the service users and their families say is very important for them.
LinkAble operate the majority of their activities out of a purpose designed building called The Link, which was refurbished with the specific needs of their users in mind in 2014. The premises features a special playroom with sensory equipment to help stimulate and engage users, an indoor soft play area and an outdoor play area with an accessible climbing frame. The main hall supports a range of group activities from discos and quizzes to table tennis and yoga. There is even an outside area used to grow flowers, fruit and vegetables that can also be utilised as an area for a range of social and play activities.
LinkAble have a simple mission statement: “to enable those with learning disabilities to develop their potential and enjoy socially inclusive fulfilled lives” – and this is clearly reflected in all the work that they do. However, despite doing such a wonderful job in Surrey for so many years, the team at LinkAble worry that many families and individuals who could benefit hugely from the services they provide are still not yet aware of what they offer.
LinkAble divides its services into three different age groups; Children (ages 4-11), Youth (ages 12-17), and Adult (age 18+). The activities for children focus on enabling play and enjoyment, connecting with others and developing friendship through social interaction, and development in a safe and secure environment. The main activity for this age group during term time is Saturday Play which runs from 10am-2pm for 39 weeks of the year and is extremely popular with the children and their families. During the school holidays the charity provide four weeks of summer activities, one week at each of the three half terms and at Easter and two days at Christmas.
The youth age group have their own set of activities which focus on enabling choice and fun, developing social interaction and making friends and connecting with others. This is achieved during term time via a weeknight youth club in Surrey Heath, as well as a Saturday activities session from 2:30-5:30pm for 39 weeks of the year. In school holidays LinkAble provide four weeks of summer activities, one week at each of the three half terms and at Easter and two days at Christmas.
In addition to the above, LinkAble provides Transition Groups for young people aged 16+ to help them adjust to adulthood. These groups run for people aged 16-25 and include drama, music and social groups, as well as the High Notes Choir which is open to anyone aged 16 and over.
Much of the support for adult users of LinkAble’s services focuses on building key skills for living and nurturing independence. In addition to this, the charity also helps adult users by enabling social interaction and friendships whilst encouraging them to try new things and have fun. This is mainly achieved via the We Can Do Anything programme which has been developed from the activities funded by the Big Lottery Fund. This key programme now offers a range of daytime courses covering anything from health and fitness to craft and enterprise skills, and is something the charity are keen to develop further. In addition, LinkAble also offer their adult users a range of other activities including social groups, drama, sport, music and the High Notes Choir, as well as a regular nightclub evening which is very popular and often has over 200 attendees. There is even an annual ski trip for a group of adult service users.
Want To Help?
One way in which we can all help the charity continue to raise its profile is by simply following their social media accounts and sharing their posts so that more and more people can see what great work they do.
LinkAble on Facebook: Click here
LinkAble on Twitter: Click here
LinkAble is heavily dependent on voluntary donations and fundraising. Every time they receive a gift from generous supporters making a donation, taking on a fundraising challenge, putting on an event or encouraging others to do likewise, it plays a vital role in continuing to enable their vital work. LinkAble currently runs over 20 groups and activities each week and it is support like yours which will continue to make this possible – it costs the charity over £100,000 every year to keep their services running.
If you would like to find out more about fundraising or making a donation to LinkAble then please click here.
In addition to financial support, there are also a number of volunteering roles available. To find out more, please click here.
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