Boost for local people with learning disabilities, reports James Cracknell
An Enfield charity supporting people with learning disabilities has opened its own dedicated community hub after raising thousands of pounds in donations and grants during the pandemic.
Zebras Children and Adults Charity co-founders Harriet Piercy and Jamie Ashton had been looking for a space to call their own for years – finally finding somewhere they could rent at low cost last year.
The disused outbuilding behind an estate agents in Lancaster Road lacked plumbing, lighting and was badly in need of a paint job, but after applying for grants and appealing for donations, Zebras raised £10,000 to support the renovation work.
Zebras Hub was officially opened last month and includes a therapy room, education space, play area, kitchenette and storage shed that doubled as a Santa’s grotto over Christmas.
The need for the hub became even more pressing during the pandemic as Zebras began running a food distribution network for dozens of local families. Harriet told the Dispatch: “We can do our weekly outreach work from here, like food distribution and arts and crafts. There is a therapy room where we can do counselling and life coaching.
“We will have a timetable of events. There is a lack of community space in Enfield and we have been looking for somewhere for years – when this came up we jumped at it.”
Grants to support the creation of Zebras Hub included £5,000 from The Screwfix Foundation, £2,000 from Tottenham Hotspur Foundation, and £3,000 from John Atkinsons, who owns the space Zebras is renting. There were also donations from individual charity supporters and many even turned up with tools to help carry out the renovation work.
Enfield North MP Feryal Clark cut the ribbon to declare Zebras Hub officially open. She said: “It is amazing to have a service like Zebras that is a lifeline for so many children and their families and I am incredibly proud and pleased they have been able to set up this hub.
“Congratulations to them for doing it at such a hard time. I look forward to working with them to make it a success.”
Zebras had been running a community cafe in Ponders End, where young adults with learning disabilities could learn to cook and gain work experience. But the pandemic forced the cafe to close and that’s when Harriet began exploring other ways to support vulnerable people during lockdown.
Grant funding of nearly £18,000 from The National Lottery and the government enabled Harriet to run regular online cooking classes as well as launch the food distribution network, delivering fresh fruit and veg to 31 local families in need. A special Christmas appeal also enabled Zebras to deliver presents to 126 local children.
One of the families Zebras helps is Niki Bilgin, her husband Erkin and their six children. Niki, who cannot work because of serious ill health, said: “Without them I don’t know what we would have done. The food is incredible, but it’s the little things they do that make the difference.”
For more information about Zebras Children & Adults Charity: