The Arsenal Foundation has helped fund Centre 404, a charity that runs various activities every week for people with learning disabilities. Rupert Adeyemi is a volunteer who helps run the Warm And Welcome Wednesday group.
Centre 404’s Learning & Leisure Service runs 13 activities every week for children, young people and adults with learning disabilities. Most activities are offered after school, in the evenings and at weekends, when adults are at most danger of becoming isolated.
In a recent Barnardos report, nearly one in three people with a learning disability said they didn’t have any contact with friends. Throughout my career I’ve mentored large numbers of people, and I wanted to use those skills to put something back into the community.
I discovered Centre 404 through the volunteer centre on Pentonville Road. I was walking by, saw it and went in. I help run a social group. We meet at Centre 404 every Wednesday from 7pm and deliver a range of activities including cooking, arts and crafts, exercise and drama workshops.
I remember leading a cooking session for the first time – boy was it rewarding! The menu was homemade pasta, with homemade tiramisu for dessert. It was an absolute scream trying to deliver this menu in an hour and a half. We all enjoyed ourselves – and the food was amazing! I couldn’t remember feeling so good about something in such a long time.
Our Friday social is also a lively night with resident and guest DJs, all with learning disabilities, getting everyone up on the dance floor. Our volunteers with and without learning disabilities play a crucial role in making sure everyone has a good time. This is no small feat as our Friday Social has an average attendance of 60 adults each week.
As a small, local charity we are reliant on grants and donations, as well as the time and dedication of our volunteers. What’s amazing about the Gunners Grant is that not only did we receive money towards the groups, we also got the opportunity to take our members on a tour of Emirates Stadium.
Everyone knows who Arsenal are and, even if they are not a fan, can appreciate their support of local projects. It’s about solidarity within the companies in a community irrelevant of their shape, size and turnover. Arsenal supporting Centre 404 will provide motivation for others to follow suit.