Centre 404 has been offering support and services to children and adults with a learning disability or autism and their families since 1951.

The organisations founding members were made up of a group of family carers who came together voluntarily to campaign for better rights and services for people with a learning disability and their families.

Over the years we have developed and sustained reliable and specialist support services in the following areas:

  • Housing related support so that adults with a learning disability can live as independently as possible in their own homes
  • Information, advice and advocacy to empower family carers to improve their access to support and services and to reduce isolation
  • Learning and Leisure groups and activities for children, young people, and adults with a learning disability or autism that build social networks, reduce isolation and promote independence
  • On the 13th November 1951 The Society for Parents of Backwards Children was formed at the Claremont Occupation Centre in Islington by a group of parents whose children had a learning disability. They met monthly to promote the wellbeing of their children, and to campaign for improvements in the provision of services for them. Throughout the 50s, societies in general attitude towards people with learning disabilities is reflected in the name of the charity

The charity changed its name to

The North London Society for Mentally Handicapped Children

The charity became a branch of Mencap (The National Society for Mentally Handicapped Children).
  • The charity leased the basement of 404 Camden Road from the resident Quakers Group to run their volunteer led Handshake Group for boys over 15 years of age and the Beacon Club for girls.

  • On the 14th February 1964 the charity purchased the premises at 404 Camden Road after receiving a donation of £500 from founding member Mary Stoneman (from a return on her investment in the stock market).

  • The Beacon Nursery was set up to provide day care for children with a learning disability under 5 who were not included in other nursery provision at that time. This group was hugely successful and ran for 21 years.

The charity's name was changed to

The Islington Society for Mentally Handicapped Children

  • The Education (Mentally Handicapped) Act was passed. This finally entitled children with a learning disability to a state education. Before this, they had been deemed ‘ineducable’ and barred from mainstream education.

  • The Main Hall extension was added to the premises on 404 Camden Road further to a donation from Moshe Nurtman who lost all his family in a concentration camp in 1942.

  • Our parents and families successfully campaigned to have their children brought home, previously they had been housed in provision outside of Islington. Field End House was opened and was the first accommodation for children with multiple disabilities.

  • The charity linked its services with those of the local authority.

The Education Act mandated that disabled children should be educated in mainstream schools.
  • Working with a Housing Association we opened St Pauls Road, a housing project for adults with learning disabilities that supported 6 people to live independently.

  • Cuts to council funding threatened to end weekly payments to service users. After successful protests by service users outside Islington Town Hall, payments were reinstated. 

  • With trust funding we were able to open a new supported housing project for 3 women with high and complex needs

  • We were approached by a local Housing Association to increase our supported housing projects and we opened Tollington Road and Witherington Road projects to support adults with a learning disability to live independently

  • The charity was previously run in the majority by volunteers with only 2 paid members of staff. In 1999 the first paid Director, Debbie Pippard, was appointed.

Service users voted to change the charity's name to

Centre 404

  • We launched a new Finding and Matching Service for people with a personal budget that employed and matched support workers to individual adults with a learning disability

  • Phase One of the Build Our Future Campaign is completed to include essential works to our main hall to replace draughty windows and install a new heating system. The fundraising campaign for Phase 2 was launched to raise essential funds to open up the premises at 404 Camden Road and make it more accessible.

  • Children in Need, a long time funder of Centre 404, showcased the charity on their annual television appeal and arranging for the popular boy band JLS to visit our children’s groups

  • The charity was selected by Channel 4’s Secret Millionaire Lyn Cecil and received a donation of £20,000

  • Our Chair and long standing family carer and campaigner received an OBE for her work campaigning for better services and provision for people with high and complex needs

  • The organisation won 4 new contracts to deliver supported living and Outreach services to adults with a learning disability and High Needs.

  • Phase 2 of the Build Our Future Building Campaign was completed. We raised £789,203 to complete the works which included an accessible reception and disability lift, accessible activity spaces and new garden room extension, and refurbished meeting rooms and offices.

  • Centre 404 was awarded the contract to open a brand new purpose built flats and accommodation for adults with high and complex needs.

  • Centre 404 launces Phase 3 of the Build Our Future Campaign to complete essential refurbishment works to the external façade of the original Victorian Villa, and to create 2 new group meeting rooms for family carers groups and volunteer activities.

  • After three years of fundraising  achieved  by donations from trusts and individuals, Jean and Norman’s Golden Wedding event, quizzes, various events & donated jewelry, £50,000 was raised to build our garden play structure in memory of Jean and Norman’s daughter Victoria and her friend Lisa who sadly passed in 2013.

  • Following fundraising to continue updating our building, works began and our services temporarily moved to United house.




  • Services moved back to 404 Camden road and we began to change the way we support people in response to the Covid 19 pandemic.

  • Centre 404 expanded to support people in new boroughs: Discovery House in Tower Hamlets and supporting families through SENDIASS in Waltham Forest and Enfield.

  • Centre 404 began providing short break services in Camden, Brent and Waltham Forest.

Centre 404 is celebrating

70 years of support