ELHAP is a specialist playground for children with disabilities nestled in a large woodland off Roding Lane North. Fundraising manager Sophie Blythe is working to keep the magic of play alive
If you’ve ever travelled down Roding Lane North and wondered what was behind the big green gates, then you may be surprised to learn that, as well as a five-acre woodland boasting an ancient orchard and nature reserve, it is home to the country’s largest specialist adventure playground.
Since 1976, ELHAP (Every Life Has a Purpose) has been facilitating adventure and nature play opportunities for children and young people with disabilities and complex support needs. Each year, we host over 6,000 visits to our site and directly support 300 families. We believe it’s everyone’s birthright to be able to play freely and adventurously – but for many young people with disabilities, these opportunities are limited due to the numerous challenges they face.
At ELHAP, we remove the barriers. Our services are designed to give children and young people the freedom to ‘just be kids’, explore, be challenged and have fun! They can fly through the air on our zip wire, climb trees or our weird and wonderful wooden play structures, ride bikes, go bug hunting, cook over an open fire or take part in craft, music and dance activities. Assisted by our amazing team of playworkers, each child’s support needs are met and the opportunities for imaginative fun are endless.
Parents describe ELHAP as a lifeline. “You can’t imagine the precious break ELHAP gives me, every hour is absolutely precious. ELHAP takes away the stress for both of us,” said one mum. Families can enjoy desperately needed respite, which they often can’t access elsewhere. Children benefit from being active outdoors, but our sessions also help build resilience, confidence and self-esteem, whilst providing opportunities to socialise.
Like many frontline organisations, COVID-19 had a huge impact on our magical and unique charity. Today, due to the closure of other support services, coupled with the cost-of-living crisis, demand for our playscheme is at an all-time high. We’ve been working hard to rebuild our services, and we’re delighted that this summer’s playscheme was the busiest it’s been since before the pandemic. However, there is still a way to go. There are many families in Redbridge who are, unfortunately, without any support at all and waiting for a place at ELHAP. We desperately need to raise funds to create more capacity.
There are many ways you can support us directly, for example, by making a donation, taking on a challenge, volunteering or, if you shop at the Co-op, by choosing ELHAP as your local cause. Perhaps your workplace would be interested in becoming our corporate partner? And we are thrilled to have been selected for this year’s Redbridge Mayor’s Appeal, which will see a number of fundraising events and activities taking place throughout the borough.
ELHAP is located at 119 Roding Lane North, Woodford Green, IG8 8NA. For more information, visit elhap.org.uk