Chapter 18

Chapter 18 — From leaky offices to a lovely dry one
Our Caledonian Road office a small, leaking room on the fourth floor. Eventually, in 1993, we moved to a wheelchair accessible space in a warehouse in Shoreditch. This also leaked, had an unreliable lift, wasn’t very comfortable, and was unsatisfactory in many ways, but only cost £25 a week. In 1996, we found a beautiful new self-contained wheelchair accessible office in Holland Park.
Then we ran out of money and Ted O’Dwyer, our blind telephone operator (a trained Samaritan) offered an upstairs room in his house in Woodford. Since all our volunteers were able to climb stairs, we took Ted up on his offer, and moved everything into his house.
Then we gained a wheelchair using volunteer, Shital Shah, and she found us a wheelchair accessible office-share with Regard, an LGBTI charity in a secure office block in Highbury, Islington. Regard lost their funding and was forced to vacate, but we secured another office of our own in 2000, and stayed there for 12 years, paying the rent out of funds raised by the Ball.
In 2012, one of the volunteers remarked “when we get online joining, we won’t really need an office.” This was a revelation — no more need to pay rent so no more need for me to run the Ball! Time could be devoted to the Outsiders Club, Trust projects and my book! We moved out in December. I had written to an ex-member who I knew had been left a house in Ealing by his mother and asked if I might have a room to work when in London. Miraculously, Ron, now a 75 year-old but still very active deaf man, said, “yes, I’d be delighted to offer space for Outsiders HQ”! I was over the moon!
Ron was a bit aghast at the quantity of stuff coming through his front door, but I was soon ensconced in his mother’s room, complete with period dressing table and a beautiful view of the garden below.
The membership volunteers spent six months waiting for the website to be completed, working from one of their homes, all the paperwork in a huge Outsiders bag. One complained, “We used to have an office, now we’ve only got a bag”. Thank goodness those days are over!

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