When the wheels hit the ice! Wheelchair ice-skating at the Sobell Leisure Centre

With the Winter Paralympics starting this week, there’s a bigger focus than ever on support for disabled athletes.

Left to right: (Charlotte Sawh, Bryn Thomas and Dominik Kochta)
Helpers at the ice rink - Left to right: (Charlotte Sawh, Bryn Thomas and Dominik Kochta)

In Islington’s Centre 404, a charity organisation involved in community outreach for people with disabilities, is getting people out onto the ice. The charity hosts a weekly event in Sobell Leisure Centre which gives locals the opportunity to skate on the ice rink including wheelchair ice-skating. 

Wheelchair ice-skating

The leisure centre provides two employees to skate along and make sure everyone is safe. One of the wardens, Charlotte, loves the more personal atmosphere with the disabled skaters. She said: “In a normal session we don’t have as much one to one interaction.” Wheelchair users can get straight out onto the ice with their own wheelchair, while chairs are provided for people with other disabilities, such as visual impairment. All they need to bring is a fiver, and they’re ready to go.

Keeping active

Ali, one of the members of the charity, loves the opportunity to leave the house and try new things. “I can’t skate standing because I’m blind,” he said, “but I like to keep active by getting out and meeting new people. When I’m at home all I hear from my Dad is politics, politics politics. It’s just not as interesting.”

Skate and keep fit

Bryn Thomas has been the group activities organiser for Centre 404 for almost two years. “It helps me keep fit, but mainly it’s about what the members that come along get out of it. It’s great because it’s something that these people can’t do otherwise.“I skated a couple of times as a kid, but I only really started when I took over this role. Holding on to a wheelchair really helps with balance.”

If the Winter Paralympics has inspired any disabled locals to get active, the Sobell ice rink is open for drop-ins every Wednesday, from 11am to midday.