In 1997, a group of parents, young people and professionals identified a need for young people with a learning/ intellectual disability and autism to have more opportunities to socialise with their peers within their local community. A committee was established and The Young Fit and Able (YFA) Group was born. Its key purpose was to provide a monthly social, recreational or educational opportunity for a group of up to 20 young adults with a learning disability in the Craigavon and Banbridge area. This was the start. With very few resources, no paid staff and operating solely with the support of volunteers the group began to grow.
As time went on, the small group of volunteers looked for sources of funding to be able to do more and a coordinator was employed on a part-time basis.
Fast forwarding to 2003 and the committee at that time received the welcome news that they had been awarded a Community Fund grant from the Big Lottery Fund for £79,000 over a three-year period to pay for a coordinator on a more structured and permanent basis, with the objective of growing and developing the organisation. During those years the weekly youth club, holidays and camping opportunities began development. We also established an office alongside the Craigavon & Banbridge Health & Social Services Trust, Community Learning Disability Team in Moylinn House, Craigavon.
By 2006 the organisation was in a period of transition. The Community Fund grant was just about to come to an end, and the opportunity arose to present to a group of what was then the Newry and Mourne Health and Social Services Trust about some innovative residential opportunities that we were delivering for adults with a learning disability in the Craigavon and Banbridge area. We outlined how a group of 15 young people participated in a residential that we had organised at Killowen Outdoor Education Centre in Rostrevor; and how they had an adventurous weekend traversing ropes and canoeing. The key purpose of the discussion was to explore whether we could replicate this service for other adults in the Newry and Mourne area. Little did we know where this conversation would lead and in 2016 we had a celebration event to celebrate 10 years of operating the Adult Short Breaks service!
In 2007, we changed the name of the organisation to Enable. We also rolled out the Adult Short Breaks (flexible respite service as it was) across the rest of the Southern Health and Social Care Trust area. The Peer Outing Programme (Transitions as it was then) commenced in 2008 with Newry and Mourne in April and then the rest of the Trust area, we also relocated to larger premises in Church Square in Banbridge.
In 2009, we acquired a dilapidated, old, listed former national school house outside Armagh, known as Drumbee Old School House, and progressed plans to raise funds for its renovation and refurbishment.
In 2010, we received an award of Big Lottery funding for the Friendship Links programme of over £227,000 to develop a five-year befriending project for people with a learning disability aged 16 and over from throughout the Southern Health and Social Care Trust Area.
We purchased an old building in serious need of refurbishment at 162 Portadown Road in 2012 and began plans for its renovation and refurbishment. We commenced using this building as our head office in 2013 which was also the year we started our ASD Skills Development residential programme.
By 2016 the Youth Empowerment Programme commenced, we reached the end of a successful Friendship Links project and developed the BIG service.
In 2017, we celebrated our 20th Anniversary with a complete rebrand and a new name. incredABLE was born! We also were awarded Big Lottery funding for the We are incredABLE project of over £500,000 to develop a five year programme for people with a learning disability aged 18-25 and over from throughout the Southern Health and Social Care Trust area. We were also awarded SHSCT Community Mapping contract, a six month project to deliver day opportunities throughout the Trust area. We merged with Step by Step NI (Cafe One Eighty). The award winning high street restaurant and attached training facility offers a unique experience in hospitality training to young people with a learning/intellectual disability and/or autism who want to develop culinary skills and expertise. 2017 also saw the purchase of the Ballinran Centre, a 5000 sq ft residential centre outside Kilkeel that the organisation has been using since 2007. Whilst we are continuing to use the centre for our own work, we are progressing plans and raising funds for minor works and refurbishment so that it can be let out to other organisations and generate an additional income stream for the organisation. A second cafe at the Jethro Centre in Lurgan was opened in early 2018 and the space in the Jethro Centre is now used extensively by our youth club projects, social enterprises and of course the Cafe.
From the initial 20 young people we supported in 1997, we now support over 500!