A unique community that changes lives

For over 30 years, KEEN has worked with children and adults in Oxford with special needs and/or physical or learning disabilities. 

We believe that everyone deserves opportunities to socialise, get active, and feel included, regardless of their needs.

It is crucial that we understand what is important about KEEN for everyone in our community.

Read on to hear from the groups that make KEEN what it is, to find out more about what research we undertake to understand our community better, and to read recent reports on the difference we make.

 
 
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Helping participants do what is important to them...

We know that coming to KEEN has significant benefits for our participants in a range of areas. Most significantly, feedback shows that our sessions lead to an increase in confidence and social skills, help people to be more active, and feel more socially included.

 
 

"I'm just going to reflect on the good bits, because there wasn't really anything bad about KEEN Teens this term." Robbie, KEEN Teens and Allsorts participant

"I enjoy going and doing the sports - playing football, doing dancing. The funniest part was the Treasure Hunt." Martina, GrEAT Member

"Watching Roman leap off the kayak in the pool was hilarious!" Ellie, Zig-Zag and Allsorts Participant

"I love going to KEEN on Saturdays. My favourite sport is Batball." Emma, Allsorts Athlete

"I enjoyed being a champion." James, Allsorts and GrEAT participant

"My name is Thomas. I am 14 years old. On Mondays I go to KEEN Teens. I love playing with my friends. We do cool stuff like acting and making things. On Saturdays I go to Allsorts. I like football best. The helpers are very kind. Thank you everybody." Thomas, KEEN Teens and Allsorts participant

 

 
 
 
 

Supporting Parents, Guardians, and Carers

In our last participant survey (2018) parents, guardians and carers praised our support and the respite KEEN provides, and siblings enjoy participating in our activities too.

 
 
 
 

"Thank you, KEEN, for giving Thomas so much to look forward to each week. I cannot overstate how important a part of his life KEEN has become. Nor can I speak highly enough of the dedication, patience and energy of the volunteers. Again, thank you."  Chris, Parent of a KEEN Participant

"GrEAT/Allsorts have been wonderful in helping 'Harry' make friends since our move to Oxford. She is much more independent and mature than a year ago and simply loves all the activities. A really big 'Thank You' to you all."  Silvana, Parent of a KEEN Participant

 

 

"KEEN has been a joy this year, Theo's loved the range of activities, and his confidence has really grown too. What's lovely for me is you kindness and humour - it's such a good strategy for our children and us!" Angeli, Parent of a KEEN participant

"Thank you for making sure that parent's views and suggestions are listened to and taken into account, and to all the volunteers who show up each week to ensure that Robbie gets the most out of every session." Alison, Parent of a KEEN Participant

"Thank you for letting Martina do the page titles for the KEEN yearbook. Martina really enjoys coming to GrEAT and KEEN for the Saturday and Monday sessions!"  Sally, Parent of a KEEN Participant

 
 
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Inspiring our Coaches and Team

 
 

For over 30 years, people in Oxford who care about inclusion and equal opportunity for those with disabilities and special needs have been the lifeblood of KEEN. Our team is made up of students from Oxford’s universities and schools, and local professionals.  They offer 1-to-1 support to  our participants, encouraging deep engagement with activities and peers.

Volunteering with KEEN has given me a reason to be proud of myself and overcome my social anxiety. The whole experience has been life changing.
— Amber, Session Leader and Committee Member

We achieve a huge amount on a very small budget due to the support of these people, and the ability of KEEN to inspire and engage new ones into our cause. In 2017, a total of 242 volunteers gave over 2,500 hours at our sessions, and many more behind the scenes, a huge contribution-in-kind relative to our expenditure.

KEEN Session Coaches and other team members gain invaluable skills in leadership, inclusivity, communication and adaptability, alongside an understanding of special needs that they can carry forward into the rest of their lives. Many are inspired into careers such as education and social care, crucial jobs that help to support our communities.

 
 

Working with the wider community

 

Enduring and new partnerships with other community organisations, schools, businesses, and the universities are central to our work. The more we work with, inspire, and learn from others in the community, the greater our impact can be. 

Sometimes this means having difficult conversations, or overcoming barriers, but we see these moments as something to celebrate and seek out, and essential to our work, if we are to help support a true transformation for the lives of people with disabilities and special needs.

Find out more about some of our current partners using the links on this page. And if you have an interest in working with us, please don't hesitate to get in touch, we would love to hear from you!

 
 
We’ve been delighted to work with KEEN this year through our Impact Labs programme! Our team of students had a fantastic time attending KEEN sessions, undertaking research into the difference they make.
— Rachel, Oxford Hub
My colleagues and I from the Sport and Exercise Science Programme at Oxford Brookes University have worked with KEEN since last year in an academic context. This involved work placements for our students, shadowing sessions, and as of this year will also include joint research projects. We, including our students, were all very impressed by the enthusiasm and quality of the work KEEN are delivering and the effect this has on the community and the people involved. It is a pleasure working with KEEN and we are looking forward to a great partnership
— Dr Peter Wright, Oxford Brookes University
The museum really enjoyed opening its doors to KEEN at night. It gave us a chance to better understand and meet their needs in a relaxed atmosphere exclusive to them and their activities.
— Chris, Oxford Museum of Natural History
We have been working in partnership with KEEN Oxford at their KEEN Teens session and I must say that so far it has been a positive experience. We really love the way they structure their activities by making them fun and engaging to include all participants regardless of their abilities. They have a genuine passion for supporting and helping young people with special needs access positive provisions. We look forward to working with them for the rest of the year.
— Leonard and Olivia, Youth Ambition, Oxford City Council
KEEN shares a common purpose with us in creating events which are both sociable and active. Continue to do what you’re doing, KEEN, because it’s clearly enjoyed by many, many people!
— Jane Bird, Oxfolk Ceilidhs - KEEN Partner
 
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Research, monitoring, and evaluation

 

You can find our latest monitoring and evaluation report 'Making a Difference, Our Impact 2014-17: Summary' to download below.

In the final quarter of 2018, we will be publishing our first fully comprehensive annual impact report, after a year of detailed research within our organisation to understand where we are and how best to achieve our strategic plan for the next 3 years.

We take our responsibility to monitor and evaluate our work seriously. We know that the better we understand the community that we support and what is important to them, the more effective we can be.

That goes for working out how our own programme and projects deliver change too, and where they can be improved.