Shadwell Basin Outdoor Activity Centre
Shadwell Basin Outdoor Activity Centre (SBOAC) is a unique, riverside charity in East London. In 1976, local parents and community leaders had the vision and determination to start the transformation, from what was a derelict dock into an Outdoor Centre on Shadwell Basin. It was established as a charity and now provides the widest range of adventurous activities available in Central London.
These activities are used by both adults and young people alike. However, the emphasis on development work is with disadvantaged young people in Tower Hamlets. Many come from poor economic backgrounds with difficult home lives and the activities offered are highly subsided and always kept at a low cost.
The youth programme includes Kayaking, Canoeing, Rowing, Sailing, Climbing, High Ropes, Bell boating, Orienteering, Mountain Biking, Improvised Raft Building, Hill and Mountain walking, Camping and Problem Solving! Each activity will have technical skills to learn, but these are complemented by the skilful mentoring of the qualified paid staff and qualified volunteers. They engineer the sessions to allow chances for leadership, teamwork, confidence building, peer assistance, risk assessment and decision making. These build into opportunities for employment and volunteering in the outdoor and adventure industry, as well as young leadership and coach training, encompassing internal and national accreditation.
Tailored programmes for schools have also been developed, which enable students to not only take part in regular physical activity, have fun and learn new skills but to also focus on accredited awards, GCSE and ‘A’ Level programmes. The Duke of Edinburgh Award Schemes are also run.
The skills learnt on these programmes are then applied to the natural environment on day trips and four residential trips a year, all over the UK. However, as part of the SBOAC’s 40th anniversary celebrations in 2016, a group of twelve Shadwell youth members and staff took part in their most ambitious trip to date. They travelled to Nepal for a three week expedition to trek to Kala Patthar and also to undertake a project at Monjo School in the Everest Valley. It took over a year to plan, prepare and raise the £28,000 needed and a huge effort was undertaken by Shadwell staff, the Kala Patthar Challenge team and their parents and families. Many individuals, club members and organisations also contributed. The team trekked for 15 days by foot, from Lukla to Kala Patthar, where they summited at 5,555 metres and watched the sun set on Everest before descending in the dark. It was a life-changing experience for all of the team.
As a member of one of the organisations that regularly raises money for the Centre, I have experienced at first-hand the amazing achievements of the staff and young members of this unique Club. Earlier this year, nine of my rowing team, Bench Blisters, and I joined a group of 14-16 year olds plus three staff from SBOAC, to row and kayak across the Great Glen Trail in Scotland. After a 22 hour journey in a bus, they uncomplainingly set up camp in the dark and were ready to start our 100k expedition at 8am the next morning. Needless to say, my team and I spent the night in a hotel!
Their determination, and at times, bravery, over the next few days was a joy to see. As one of my fellow rowers commented, “How many other children their age were stuck in front of a computer, playing games and communicating with friends remotely, rather than experiencing an amazing adventure like these young people were. How great to be dirty, tired, and eating yucky food at times but on a real adventure they will never forget.”
SBOAC is a truly inspirational organisation run by devoted staff and volunteers who wholeheartedly believe in what they are doing. In an area that has one of the highest child poverty rates in the UK, it is more important than ever that the Centre continues to provide high quality activities at an 80% subsidy, so that all local young people, whatever their circumstances, are able to take part. This has become increasingly difficult because of cuts in funding however the fundraising efforts of the members and loyal supporters will hopefully enable this unique organisation to grow and continue its inspirational work.
If you would like to know more about the Shadwell Basin Outdoor Activity Program E-mail: info@Shadwell-Basin.org.uk or Tel: 020 7841 4210