Islington Boat Club

Islington Boat Club

At a glance


  • Children / families
  • Education
  • Health and well being / research and care
  • Learning disabilities / difficulties
  • Local / community
  • Older people / later life
  • Physical disabilities
  • Sports
  • Training / employment support
  • Young people

Other details

Geographical remit: 


The beneficiaries of Islington Boat Club's activities are: 

  • Individual young people and their families in Islington
  • Young people with additional needs
  • Senior citizens (over 55s)
  • Schools
  • Enthusiasts of water sporting activities across North East London

Our programmes and activities

Our principal activities are provision of services which have been mainly focused on young people aged 9-19 years old:

• Alternative education provision for young people referred to us who have been excluded or have specific needs

• Family days

• Kayaking/canoeing

• Narrowboat trips

• Pedalos

• Power boating

• Sailing

• Youth forum and youth spokespeople

• Self defence

• Special needs groups

• Community projects - Angel festival, partnerships with the Garden Classroom, Angel Community Narrowboat.

• Venue hire for birthday parties and other events including provision of some of the water based activities

Some of our services are provided in combination and promoted specifically to schools and community groups.

Our alternative education programme also means that our facilities are used for the provision of other skills for its participants in addition to our water based services.

We also combine services to make them attractive to both young people with specific needs and their families to extend our reach into the wider community and maximise the use of our site and equipment.

Our youth programme is timed to maximise usage after school and during school holidays.

Our impact

Our mission statement is:
To inspire learning, improve health, promote socialisation and strengthen the Islington community by providing a wide range of safe and affordable water-based activities for everyone – with a focus on young people, the over-50s and people with additional needs.

Our charity is a well-known institution situated on the Regent’s Canal, the second largest open space in Islington. We have used this space to provide a lifeline to vulnerable people in the local community for almost 50 years. We help young people find pathways out of poverty, exclusion and disadvantage.


Youth Club
Islington has the third highest level of child poverty in London – there are 15,000 children living in Islington families where nobody works. We run a large youth club – with 280 regular participants, peaking to 600 participants during the summer and half-term holidays – aiming to support as many young people as possible.

The youth club runs three times a week during the term and every weekday during the holidays. We address personal and social development through the medium of watersports. Participants can take part in canoeing, kayaking, powerboating, narrowboating, swimming and mountain biking. Our youth club members learn new skills that are transferable to their social and educational networks. We also organise regular off-site trips so young people can broaden their horizons and test themselves in more challenging environments. Our charity helps young people find pathways out of poverty, exclusion and disadvantage.

Over-50s (UpperDeckers programme)
In just over a year since we started our over-50s programme, over 400 people have attended the various activities with a substantial core of regulars attending each week. This programme reaches isolated people in our community and gets them involved in kayaking and narrowboating, while learning new skills and having fun – with dramatic mental and physical health benefits. Our charity can and does make a real difference to the social aspect of their lives. In addition, UpperDeckers members often volunteer in our other initiatives, such as the youth club, creating a strong sense of community at Islington Boat Club.

Participant testimonial
In Islington, we are surrounded by the very rich but also the very poor and deprived. To have a club that offers their services for free or at a very low cost enables the less privileged children and adults to join in with something that is way out of their reach!

People with disabilities (All On Board programme)
In less than a year, our All On Board Programme has supported over 200 people with physical disabilities, learning difficulties and mental health issues (we have worked with people affected by autism, ADHD, cerebral palsy, PTSD, depression and deafness). We run a weekly All On Board after-school club on Thursday evenings and we also cater for booked group sessions. Participants have reported increased confidence, a sense of well-being, self-esteem and decreased isolation. There are tangible physical health benefits, with participants that have physical disabilities reporting a vast improvement in strength, coordination and general fitness.

Parent testimonial
Both of my children attend the boat club each week and enjoy going there very much. The staff are very good with the kids, Sarah (Rex) especially. They anticipate needs in a timely fashion and keep my children motivated, and they have learned a lot of new skills. The activities provided are varied and interesting and my children have been able to make friendship networks for the first time in their lives - which is a wonderful thing to witness. The environment is warm and welcoming. I cannot praise the boat club too highly - it has been a godsend and long may it continue. (George 18 (autism), Carly 17 (autism))
Elizabeth Keable-Elliott - Mother

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