Portable Offices has just added a third storey to the portable building that makes up the AHOY Centre.

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London’s Disadvantaged Youngsters Gain Advantage Thanks to Portable Building

Situated on the banks of the river Thames,The AHOY Centre is a registered charity based in Deptford, London that helps disadvantaged youngsters and people with disabilities.

The AHOY provides a range of courses and activities using the medium of rowing and sailing to educate, train and provide apprenticeships to get people into work, especially those that have struggled at school and have little or no academic qualifications. The AHOY also has a high focus on the community and brings together people from all different walks of life to help each other.

The new third storey provides training facilities during the day and then in the evening becomes hostel style accommodation with drop down bunks.

This is to provide a respite for some of vulnerable young people from their chaotic home lives so they can get away for a few days every so often.

This was the second project for the AHOY undertaken by Portable Offices. The first was phase was implemented in 2012 when it was decided to expand the centre to incorporate training rooms and specialised equipment for the growing number of participants and to launch their two new projects – ‘Pulling Together’ & ‘Show Me Why’.

Because the building is literally on the Thames wall, flexible and durable accommodation was a necessity together with the need for speedy construction.  As a result, Portable Offices was tasked with providing modular buildings as part of a full, turn-key package.

The Portable Offices’ team worked in tandem with the AHOY Centre management and volunteers to include specific design features and to price-engineer the building to meet the budget criteria.

Despite the difficulties with limited space and access, the contract proved to be a source of inspiration to the Portable Offices’ team who added a number of complimentary personal design features in order to optimise the build for the charity.

This included adapting the building so there was no transfer of noise or vibration from the dedicated rowing room on the first floor where all 18 rowing machines are linked together with data share equipment to facilitate a simulated rowing race.

The state-of-the-art facilities enabled the growing number of disadvantaged and disabled people to accurately simulate exact rowing conditions and to go on to try their hand at an increasing array of water sports including a specially built craft – which can be solely manned and crewed by people with disabilities – The AHOY Freedom.

The new third storey will give local youngsters a chance for respite from their chaotic home and often disruptive family lives.

Clive Ongley, MBE, Chair Trustee and one of the Ahoy Centre’s founders, oversaw the construction of the new facilities, working closely with the Portable Offices’ team. He commented: “Once again, Portable Offices worked in tandem with us and came up with good, practical solutions to any challenges that appeared.  Contracts such as this are never easy; quite often they are more of an ‘art form’ than an exact science.”

About AHOY:

The name of the AHOY Centre is an acronym of Adventure Help and Opportunities for Youth Centre and is an accredited RYA sailability centre and has instructors, boats and launching equipment that enable it to provide tailored sailing courses for people with serious disabilities, including those in wheelchairs.  This equipment includes a 40 ft long power-boat, the first of its kind in the world, that is designed so that it can be crewed entirely by people with disabilities. The boat has cctv cameras allowing the crew to easily view all angles around the craft, and state-of-the-art controls that can be used with small finger movements,

In addition, the centre’s partners in the probation service and the police refer to the centre youths identified as being at-risk due to their home circumstances or their association with gang violence or religious fundamentalism. Such youths benefit from the structured environment, the new and challenging activities, and the presence of strong role models. Many go on to gain qualifications and even become instructors in their own right.


For more information on Portable Offices’ mobile accommodation and modular buildings contact 01244 535566

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