Langdon is open to Maccabi influence

Barry Welck with Robyn Freeman, Marcus Bean, Alex Keston, Simon Houlton, Ben Weiner and Faith Gardie

Barry Welck with Robyn Freeman, Marcus Bean, Alex Keston, Simon Houlton, Ben Weiner and Faith Gardie

A communal partnership in support of young adults with moderate learning difficulties has been formally opened in Edgware.

Previously known as the Quadrant, Maccabi House is the latest Langdon educational and social project in north London and Manchester.

The name was changed to acknowledge a £400,000 donation from a memorial fund for British and world Maccabi leader Pierre Gildesgame, a passionate advocate of helping those with special needs.

Representing the Gildesgame trust at the opening, Clive Geller said the collaboration was “a dream come true. This is an important aspect of Maccabi’s future.

“Organisations have to work together when they are compatible. They won’t lose their identities.”

Maccabi chair Michael Ziff expressed “total awe of everything you are doing here”.

His Langdon counterpart Barry Welck welcomed the Maccabi contribution to the £1.9 million project, for which £500,000 still needs to be raised. Innovative features include a coffee shop — “we are going to teach people to be baristas” — and there are training rooms for bite-sized programmes on life skills such as safety, money and travel. The house will also host “employability courses”, helping Langdon clients into the job market.

Although there is ample space for socialising, Mr Welck stressed: “This is not going to be a vegging-out building. I want people to come here with purpose.”

The site also incorporates three flats for residents, one of them taken by Alex Keston, who was among Langdon clients who addressed the opening ceremony.

Currently assisting those from late teens to fortysomethings, Langdon will extend its age provision when a Brady youth club opens at Maccabi House in September.

Mr Welck estimates that there are 2,000 UK Jews with mild-to-moderate learning problems. “We have 100 residents and another 50-to-100 who join us for events, so we are only scratching the surface.” Its next major housing project is in Borehamwood, where the first handful of residents will move in during the summer.

The Maccabi link-up will offer Langdon clients further sporting opportunities.

“We already have a football team which went to Spain to take part in a tournament,” Mr Welck explained. “If we have a kid who wants to go swimming, we should encourage it.

“These are people who have such normal ambitions. They have shrunken into themselves when they come to us. We help them to achieve the self-esteem which is the launch pad to a normal life.”

    Last updated: 12:08pm, June 28 2012