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Woodford Green adventure playground nominated as mayor’s charity of the year

PUBLISHED: 07:00 25 May 2018 | UPDATED: 10:06 25 May 2018

Service users and staff at the Elhap centre in Woodford Green which supports children and young people with disabilities and their families across east London

Service users and staff at the Elhap centre in Woodford Green which supports children and young people with disabilities and their families across east London

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An adventure playground in Woodford Green that is specially built for children and young people with disabilities has been chosen as the new Mayor of Redbridge’s nominated charity of the year.

Service users and staff at the Elhap centre in Woodford Green which supports children and young people with disabilities and their families across east LondonService users and staff at the Elhap centre in Woodford Green which supports children and young people with disabilities and their families across east London

Elhap in Roding Lane North has been running for 34 years and Councillor Debbie Kaur-Thiara wants to raise the profile of this “unique and magical” charity.

The centre was founded in 1976 after Diana Casswell had the idea whilst working with local playgroups - that certain children she was working with would benefit from adventure play.

From this idea Diana, along with her husband Reverend Peter Casswell, set about starting the first adventure playground for children with disabilities outside of inner London.

The centre is one of only eight specialist adventure playgrounds in the UK, with climbing frames, ziplines, and plenty of outdoor challenges, and has had support in recent weeks from Ilford MPs Mike Gapes and Wes Streeting.

Nate King, four having fun at an Elhap open day. Picture: Ellie HoskinsNate King, four having fun at an Elhap open day. Picture: Ellie Hoskins

The mayor elect told the Recorder: “Since 1976, they have supported tens of thousands of disabled children from across North East London and Essex.

“It runs holiday play schemes and term time Saturday Clubs throughout the year.

“They also run an Orchard Project which focuses on nature, horticulture, arts, and work based skills for those young people who may not “fit in” to college environments; and a Transition Project for disabled young people moving on from Children’s Services.

“Elhap desperately need the support of everyone in the community to help them and I will work hard with my Appeal Committee to raise as much money and awareness about the charity as possible during my mayoralty.

“I hope I can count on your support and participation at fund raising events for this well deserving cause.”

She said that she hadn’t heard of the charity until Rachel Joseph came and spoke to her at a local surgery, and since then she has visited the centre a number of times and seen the fantastic work they do.

Cllr Kaur-Thiara added: “It is a wonderful service that they provide, and we must do everything we can to make sure that it keeps running.

“I want to support and raise awarenesss of the charity, it runs some wonderful schemes and it helps thousands of young people across the borough.”

A spokeswoman from Elhap said: “Being chosen as the Mayor’s Charity this year is a fantastic endorsement of our work.

“This partnership will mean we can raise vital funds and raise our local profile, which will make a big difference to our work.

“We really look forward to working with the Mayor and her team and engaging with communities across Redbridge.”

Ilford North MP Wes Streeting visited the centre last week and said: “I was blown away by the amazing adventure experience on offer for children at ELHAP. They really help children, often with complex needs, to be themselves and enjoy themselves.

“ELHAP is an inspired choice for the Mayor’s appeal this year and I hope the community gives generously.”

Councillor Llo Duddridge said: “I have always been in awe of the philosophy that ELHAP believes in. Living just across the road, I know how important it is for the area.”

Pat Ilett, from the Mayor’s Appeal Committee said: “ELHAP is an amazing place and wonderful for the people who use it. Everyone should come and see it.”


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