The Elfrida Society

The Elfrida Society

At a glance


  • Arts
  • Campaigning
  • Children / families
  • Education
  • Health and well being / research and care
  • Human rights
  • Learning disabilities / difficulties
  • Local / community
  • Social care
  • Sports
  • Training / employment support

Other details

Geographical remit: 


The Elfrida Society is a long established charity working with people with learning disabilities. It is named after Elfrida Rathbone, who was born in Liverpool in July 1871 and worked in London.  She was a pioneering champion of the rights of people with learning disabilities.  The Society works to the values of trust, care, choice and opportunity, which reflect the principles that underpinned Elfrida Rathbone's work.  We not only provide vital services and projects for people with learning disabilities, but also employ them, and two of our current trustees have learning disabilities.  People with learning disabilities are fully involved in our policies and projects, and how the projects are run.  

Our mission is ‘To Connect People, Make Lives Happier and Have Fun! – Working with People with Learning Disabilities'. 

At the Elfrida Society, we provide services to help with seven main parts of life.  This is based on what people who have Learning Disabilities have told us is most important to them: 

These are the parts of life we provide help and support with: 

  1. 'Rights and being in control'
  2. 'Housing and Home'
  3. 'Money'
  4. 'Work and getting involved'
  5. 'Learning and Growing'
  6. 'Wellbeing and Safety'
  7. 'Being included'

Our services lead to good 'outcomes' for people with learning disabilities. We deliver services working towards 7 key outcome areas which relate to all 7 parts of life:

  1. Choice and Control
  2. Information and Advice
  3. Knowing about Rights
  4. Keeping Safe
  5. Connecting People
  6. Happier Life
  7. Having fun

A good outcome is 'what people get' out of having a service, something that makes a positive difference to life.  It might be one outcome or more than one outcome.  

For example, a good outcome might be having good 'information and advice' about rights. 

Outcomes people get from our services which relate specifically to the parts of life we provide help and support with are:

  1. To feel strong and positive about life,
  2. To feel happy when thinking about home
  3. To feel confident about managing money
  4. To get involved and help things get done
  5. To learn and grow as a person
  6. To feel safe and well in life
  7. To feel part of things, be in touch, get connected

All our projects deliver these services in different ways, we make sure they all result in good outcomes through monitoring and evaluation processes:

  • Our Advocacy project helps people find out what their rights and options are, make their own choices
  • Our Consultation project helps people to speak up, find out whats going on and get involved
  • Our Circles of Protection project helps people placed outside Islington get connected and live better lives
  • Our Homelink project provides regular support to sort out problems, get good information, help people make choices
  • Our Parents project helps parents who have learning disabilities to get information, support and advocacy
  • Our Siren project provides opportunities to learn how to DJ, make music and join our Wild Bunch club
  • Our Sports project provides opportunities to learn new sports, try new activities and meet people

Our work matters because people with learning disabilities are largely segregated from people who do not have learning disabilities, excluded from opportunities for connecting with others and do not have equality of opportunity to much of what society has to offer.  We raise awareness of the needs of people with learning disabilities and of discriminatory practices, systems and social structures which pose barriers to inclusion.  We work with people with learning disabilities individually and collectively to challenge barriers, create alternative solutions and develop opportunities for increasing social inclusion and the development of skills, confidence and self-esteem.


Elfrida is an organisation with a vision for a better world, social justice and equality of opportunity.

To achieve this we work in the following ways:

  • We support the empowerment of people with learning disabilities to do things for themselves, to make choices that are right for them
  • We provide advice and information to support people of all ages and experiences of vulnerability
  • We provide opportunities for people with learning disabilities to focus their hope and energies for a better future for all and to have their voices heard
  • We focus on education and skill development as key to personal development and the power of learning to liberate
  • We provide holistic support to address underlying as well as presenting needs
  • We are able to deal with urgent priority issues, making it easier and more effective for people to have access other services
  • We embed ‘appreciative inquiry’, ‘motivational interviewing’ and ‘asset based approaches’ in our work

Our work is informed by the social model of disability, underpinned by key legislation including the Human Rights Act 1998 and Equalities Act 2010

The social, political and economic context in which we are working creates significant challenges for organisations like ours to survive and thrive.

To achieve our aims, we must act with integrity, know what to expect from each other as colleagues and what we should do when things do not go as we hope or expect.

This is how we work with each other:

  • We proactively resolve conflict and seek out the root causes of any tensions or frustrations we experience
  • We practice ‘Vulnerability based trust’ and seek out areas of disagreement by ‘mining for healthy conflict’
  • We have clear achievable plans, the resources, skills, confidence and support we need to deliver
  • The systems, equipment, spaces, policies and procedures we use are fit for purpose, or we have clear plans and timescales for making them so
  • We develop a current evidence base to clearly show the need for, and the outcomes and impact of, our work

The Society's activities include:

  • outreach and tenancy support.
  • advocacy generally, and in relation to the Care Act and health.
  • health promotion through sports, advocacy and support.
  • volunteer befriending of service users placed outside Islington.
  • specialist advocacy and support for parents with learning disabilities.
  • monitoring the quality of services commissioned by Islington Borough Council.
  • supported employment opportunities for people with learning disabilities
  • the Wild Bunch, a night club for people with learning disabilities, run by people with learning disabilities.
  • accessible DJ training

Highlights of the last year include:

-          Collaborating with local schools, colleges, employers and Mencap to pilot a new approach to facilitate, and support, young people in securing successful work placements. The programme was led by a steering group of young people with learning disabilities, who made a series of short films to represent their experiences and that of their peers. 

-          Securing long term funding from Middlesex County Cricket Club to run weekly cricket sessions, making cricket, and the multiple benefits that physical activity brings, more accessible for people with learning disabilities.

-          Co-producing drama performances and contributing towards short films in partnership with ‘Mind The Gap’  professional theatre group, providing the opportunity for partipants to develop skills and experience in creative projects. 

-          Collaborating with other Elfrida organisations to co-host a centenary celebration event at the House of Lords in November 2016 to recognize the breadth, variety and longevity of Elfrida Rathbone's legacy.

-           Working with and advocating the right of families with learning disabilities, in particular parents, to enable them to enjoy a family life everyone is entitled to and the wellbeing and confidence that provides. 


No current opportunities

Search for volunteer opportunities with other organisations.