Oxford United in the Community speak at first Adults with Learning Differences Conference

Charities and organisations committed to enhancing opportunities for adults living with a learning differences in Oxfordshire met at a conference held by Abingdon and Witney College.

The college hosted its first Adults with Learning Differences Conference which Oxford United in the Community were proud to attend as guest speakers following the launch of its inclusion football sessions in January 2023.

Social Inclusion Lead Mark Thomas and Football Development Manager Alex Blane delivered a presentation which discussed the charity’s work to create new opportunities, connections and skillsets through its weekly sessions.

In attendance were Thames Valley Police, representatives from Abingdon and Witney College plus guests from other Oxfordshire charities who shared their own experiences.

Mark Thomas, Social Inclusion Lead at Oxford United in the Community, said: “Football can be used a fantastic lever to inspire new skills, connections and opportunities for individuals who engage.

“Our inclusion football squad is no different, and the positives changes sessions have made to participants both physically, mentally and practically is clear to see.

“We’re grateful to have had the opportunity to bring attention to this at Abingdon and Witney College’s first Adults with Learning Differences Conference. It demonstrates how we can use football to inspire happier, healthier and better-connected communities which is at the heart of our operation at the football club’s chosen charity.”

The conference was organised a couple of months after Oxford United in the Community’s inclusion football squad played its first home fixture against Northampton Town at United’s training ground.

Kick-off coincided with the one-year anniversary of the team’s launch which has welcomed over 35 individual participants, with many since representing the United badge or training on a weekly basis.

Lee Humber, Adults with Learning Differences Coordinator at Abingdon and Witney College, added: “We’re committed to providing meaningful provisions for adults who live with learning difficulties and might struggle to integrate into their communities.

“Older people who live with learning differences can often be forgotten about, which is why our long-term programme of activities targets individuals of all ages. It was great to showcase this at our conference and hear from key partners who share our vision in enhancing current provisions.

“Our work with Oxford United in the Community has been fundamental in getting our message across and the team’s inclusion football sessions have gone from strength to strength which is pleasing to see.”

Further information about Oxford United in the Community’s weekly inclusion football sessions is available via www.ouitc.org

Two sessions are delivered every Wednesday during term time at Oxford United’s Bangkok Glass Training Centre from 12:30pm until 3:30pm. All abilities are welcome and no previous experience is necessary however players will be assigned to the group that best meets their needs. players must be aged 18+ to participate.

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