A local charity has celebrated 40 years of supporting people in Lewis and Harris who have learning or other disabilities.  ENABLE Stornoway & District Branch was formed in 1976 by a group of parents looking to support their children who had disabilities.

They began raising money to campaign for abetter life for those whose unfortunate circumstances prevented them from enjoying what everyone else took for granted. Once established they formed a pressure group to lobby local councillors and attend council meetings until the Ardseileach Day Centre at Willowglen, Stornoway was built in 1979.

Through the council and the new centre people who had disabilities had access to services ranging from swimming to pre-school and nursery facilities, disco nights, and the PHAB club.  But it hasn’t all been plain sailing.

For many years the branch took members on a short break to wildlife parks and Sealife centres on the mainland with grant support from the Big Lottery and Creative Breaks.  But in 2014 and 2015 the Branch didn’t qualify for these funding grants, putting the annual trip in jeopardy.

Alex John Murray Chair of the Branch said: “Even in low season the cost of these trips is quite substantial and we feared that the trip would have to be cancelled. But I’m glad to say that the local community rallied around us when the funding didn’t come through. Those trips only happened because of their generosity.  In fact the generosity of people in Lewis and Harris has helped us support people who have disabilities over the whole of the 40 years we have been in existence.  We can’t thank them enough.”

The Branch’s work doesn’t stop there though as Alex John explains: “We might have facilities and activities for people who have learning needs and other disabilities, and we have also made progress with people going to college and holding down part-time jobs, but more needs to be done.”

“Although it’s far more difficult for people who have learning disabilities to find suitable work we very much appreciate the efforts being made by social services and businesses to accommodate them, as well as the friendly approach towards them from the people of Lewis and Harris.

“If you would like to help out with people with disabilities, please join our branch. You’ll be very welcome, and you can help contribute to another 40 years of success.“

For more information about Enable Stornoway & District Branch, and how to join contact Alex John Murray by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

  • To find out more about ENABLE SCOTLAND log on to www.enable.org.uk or follow them on Facebook /ENABLESCOTLAND or Twitter @ENABLESCOTLAND
  • ENABLE Scotland is the country’s leading charity for children and adults who have learning disabilities.
  • Local ENABLE branches are made up of volunteers, mostly people with learning disabilities and their families and carers.
  • Learning disability affects around 1 in 50 people. The most well-known form is Down’s syndrome, although there are many others. There is no cure for learning disability.
  • ENABLE Scotland was formed in 1954 by a group of families whose lives were affected by learning disability.
  • We campaign for people who have learning disabilities to live full and independent lives.
  • We provide services to allow people to live work and take part in their communities.