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Our History

WAVE started in Muswell Hill with a couple of parents who knew the challenges of integrating a child with a learning disability into their community, and a passion to do something to make things better.

Since then, we’ve demonstrated our All Valued Equally ethos through various inclusive groups and activities that champion the With Not For approach.


Take a look at our journey below:

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How we started

WAVE was started by two parents with first-hand experience of the challenges of integrating a child with learning disabilities into their community. They realised that the greatest barrier they faced can’t be overcome by legislation or policy. It needs a change in the attitudes of those who have little or no experience of disability. 

The Christian faith of the founders, Bernice and Celia, motivated them to work toward a more inclusive society, based on a belief that in God’s eyes we’re all valued equally. WAVE activities have always welcomed and included those of all faiths or none. 

Watch Bernice talking about what motivated her to start WAVE

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March 2009

Bernice and Celia attend the same church in Muswell Hill and are prompted to make their church and the community more welcoming for individuals with learning disabilities and their families. Following her own experience of isolation, Celia had a desire to create a special place for parents with babies with additional needs. With support from others in the community, the first Challenge Group met in November 2009.

"We only had one participant that first day... In the second week, two or three people showed up. Gradually, more people heard about the group by word of mouth and attendance increased."


June 2013

The young people involved with WAVE Club decided it would be fun to get the wider community involved in what we were doing and so we planned and worked together to put on a Pop-Up Community café on a sunny Sunday afternoon in Muswell Hill. There was music from a community jazz band, craft activities, and art exhibition displaying and selling paintings and other pieces from artists with a learning disability. 

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June 2011

After seeing the impact of WAVE Church on people’s experiences and attitudes, Bernice wondered whether it would be possible to create something equally welcoming and inclusive for those who don’t go to church. A group of community minded people with and without learning disabilities got together to discuss ideas for a possible WAVE social club, run by and for young people.

Fortnightly Club sessions started in the summer of 2011.

"There was such a buzz around the room and really positive expectations of how the Club might work, so we felt we had to give it a go!"


March 2018

After a number of successful pop-up events, we decided to set up WAVE Cafe as a social enterprise. Now renamed WAVE Hub, it runs every Thursday in Muswell Hill.

September 2019

We held WAVE for Change Day to celebrate WAVE's 10 year anniversary and the release of our research report.


It was a wonderful celebration of all abilities with passionate speakers, a walk, art and a big party in the evening, all to celebrate everyone being valued equally.

June 2010

Bernice’s daughter had a strong faith but found it difficult to fully engage with mainstream church services – the idea of starting more accessible worship meetings for young adults with learning disabilities was her focus. After taking a leap of faith, the first WAVE Church service took place in June 2010, on Disability Sunday, thanks to encouragement and support from the former charity Causeway Prospects.

"For the first couple of months we prayed for new people to join us. It was a slow burn and several months before the first new person arrived."


June 2020

We received the Langton Award for Community Service from the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Read the full article here.

July 2020 

We took another leap of faith and WAVE for Change became incorporated as a registered CIO with the aim of encouraging and enabling other communities to run genuinely inclusive worship and social groups.

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Artwork created at Whose Shoes event

March 2021 

Inclusion practitioners, activists and thought leaders from across the UK came together on-line to help us explore the potential for WAVE ethos replication, and so the potential for WAVE in a Box was confirmed.

"My pledge is… to get conversations going and to encourage everyone to offer their help or skills to each other, to encourage face to face conversations again which we have been lacking for 12 months now."

Alice Hawken, Haringey Council Mutual Aid Coordinator

Later that year, we signed up our first WAVE group in Little Ilford.

March 2022

On 23rd March 2022, we held a workshop at City Lit for WAVE in a Box. We exchanged ideas with supporters and inclusion practitioners, some of whom had attended the workshop in 2021. We finished with an evening exhibition where Guvna B and City Lit's mixed-ability orchestra gave a special performance.


Later that year, WAVE in a Box  was launched!


Since starting, we helped launch WAVE groups in North & East London, Darlington & Cambridgeshire.

Portrait from LIVING WITH exhibition, a WAVE celebration of diverse families and friendships with portraits by Kristina Varaksina

October 2023

This year four groups came into the WAVE family - in Norfolk, Yorkshire and Co. Antrim - and these new WAVEmakers joined our quarterly online forums for encouragement and idea sharing. In London, we had a fun WAVE area at Alexandra Palace's 150th birthday celebrations. We were back at Ally Pally in October for LIVING WITH, a wonderful exhibition of photographic portraits of WAVE's Challenge Group children, many taken with a sibling in a real celebration of mixed-ability families. In November we held a successful wine and cheese tasting FUNdraising evening. All of these events, involving a mixed ability team, gave us a great opportunity to share the work of WAVE with a wider audience.

Why Mix?

The benefits for everyone

Join in

How to experience WAVE-style mixing

Our Reach

Communities and people we have connected

Become a WAVEmaker

Find out how you can join the WAVEmaker journey

WAVE in a Box

Discover how to start a mixed-ability group in your community with WAVE in a Box

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