"Every meal was different, wholesome, well presented & delicious"

By Lana Jakilazek

North London Ability is a charitable organisation that provides support to cognitively and developmentally delayed young adults focusing on building core skills, social connection, independence and providing essential needs.

Even before the pandemic struck, young adults with disabilities often struggled with feelings of loneliness and ability to care for themselves. Covid-19 cut food provision and further limited the social interaction of North London Ability’s beneficiaries. As children and young teenagers, they were used to having community support and affection with volunteers taking them out and various extracurricular clubs but due to the pandemic, 90% of their beneficiaries found themselves in long term quarantine or isolation.

Though demand for their services skyrocketed 60% throughout the pandemic, the group found funding hard to come by. They were told by some of their grant providers their applications had been withdrawn due to Covid-19 pressures, with some funds either postponed or delayed indefinitely. As a small organisation entirely governed by volunteers, they struggled to find the time to complete applications for funding as they were caring morning to night for their vulnerable beneficiaries.

But despite these challenges, the group mobilised right from the start to ensure they stopped issues from spiralling out of control at the onset and that urgent needs of their beneficiaries were met - that they were nourished, had the ability to brave the winter and were emotionally supported and connected.

Receiving funding from the London Community Response (LCR) was crucial for North London Ability to achieve this, and they ended up applying for and receiving funding in the first four waves of funding.

If not for the London Community Response support we would be at risk of closure. Professional clinicians who work with our clients repeatedly told us that our work, enabled by LCR, was what built our users strengths and resilience and helped them cope with the impossible.”

At the beginning, North London Ability received funding to help them provide specialist meals, essentials, activity packs and one to one virtual and phone befriending services. These were lifelines to their beneficiaries – and they reported these three meals a day combatted their hunger and the befriending chats helped reduce their stress and loneliness.

The trusted white box emblazoned with Ability's logo was the only thing we could trust during these trying times. Every meal was different, wholesome, well presented, and delicious. It was generously packed, and my husband and I took turns enjoying the leftovers.
Beneficiary

As the pandemic progressed, they received further funding for virtual dance, exercise sessions and mental health therapy. As well as funding for warm winter gear and further activities to keep them stimulated and learn functional skills during isolation periods.

Once restrictions allow, they plan to move into their new expanded space which will be customised and accessible to their disabled users needs and Covid-19 safe. They continue working on finding and securing financial partners who are passionate about opportunities for people with special educational needs.