About us

Yellow Submarine is an award-winning Oxfordshire charity that believes people with learning disabilities and autism deserve to live life to the full.

We tackle the problem that many people with learning disabilities leave school with limited life skills and as a result poor life chances. This often leads to isolation and being marginalised. Our projects start working with young people in community settings from the age of 11 onwards, to build their social skills, confidence, independence and ultimately their employability. At the same time we are supporting families and carers with respite.

We’re unusual in the world of charities (and local authorities) in that with the same team of staff we assist young people on their journey through childhood into adulthood. This allows us, often over many years, to gain both trust and a real insight as to how best to create a person-centered plan to support each individual.

What makes us different? Willingness to go the extra mile. An emphasis on fun. Fresh and innovative approaches which embrace enterprise and technology. That staff member who post their EuroMillions win, says, “I’m staying at my job”. A family feel. We’re unashamedly ambitious to make things better.

The terms “learning disability” and “autism” cover a huge variety of needs. Our specialism is helping individuals with mild to moderate needs- it is unusual for us to provide one-to-one support.

We have created a handy leaflet to explain more about how we got started and how we came to be the charity that we are today.

Our projects

For young people (11-18), we run an ambitious school holiday programme, youth clubs, a breakfast club and residential holidays. Our goal is to help teenagers transition into adulthood and therefore able to access mainstream services, socialise independently and engage in meaningful work. In short, to be able to ‘do more’ but to ‘need less’ from the state or charities such as ours.

For adults, we provide real-world training and employment opportunities, a group called Launchpad for young adults to peer-support one another to socialise & use public transport independently and residential holidays throughout the year, which are often young adults’ first sustained time away from home.

Our success achieving our goals has been greatly helped by award-winning social enterprise cafes we run in Oxford and in Witney, which are co-staffed by people with learning disabilities. We have consistently been the number 1 rated restaurant in Oxford on TripAdvisor in 2015. People enter the cafés because of the quality of the coffee & food. It just ‘so happens’ that some 45,000 customers have left the door with a different perception of ‘disability’.

Our structure

We are a small to medium organisation which is primarily volunteer led, with about 30 staff members, including 7 people with learning disabilities. We have a strong and active board of trustees which includes parent representatives, and significant professional expertise. We have been registered as a charity (no. 1136735) since 2010. All our staff, who have completed their induction/training, are paid at least the living wage.


October 2015: “Guardian Charity Award” [The Guardian, shortlisted]
October 2015: “Enterprising Collaboration Award” [Lloyds Bank Foundation, National runner-up]
September 2015: “Award of Distinction” [Oxfordshire Restaurant Awards]
July 2015: “Enterprising Collaboration Award” [Lloyds Bank Foundation, Regional winner]
May 2015: “Charity and Community Award” [Oxfordshire Business awards]
February 2015: “Charity of the Year”  [OCVA awards]
December 2014: “Cafe of the Year” [Oxford Mail, finalist]
March 2014:  “Best Youth Project”  [Oxfordshire Youth awards]
September 2012: “Best New Charity”  [Charity Times national awards, shortlisted]
October 2011: “Best New Voluntary or Community Group”  [OCVA awards]


About two thirds of our income is now self-generated through our enterprises. We rely, however, on the generous support of many donors and fundraisers to be able to pioneer new initiatives and to provide some of our most needed, but costly, projects.

See our impact

Learn more by having a look at our latest annual return, our photo diaries or some of our videos below…

10th Birthday Celebration
10th Birthday Celebration
A video from our 10th birthday celebrations at Hill End on the 14th September 2019.
5 Years of The Compass Project
5 Years of The Compass Project
A celebration of our sheltered work experience project Compass
Yellow Submarine Pathway to Employment
Yellow Submarine Pathway to Employment
One of the wonderful outcomes from our traineeship
Apprenticeship magic
Apprenticeship magic
On the BBC news
Volunteer driven
Young People's Activities in South Oxfordshire 18-19
Young People's Activities in South Oxfordshire 18-19
A peak at only a handful of some of the things we got up to with the cohort from the south of Oxfordshire