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IMPORTANT NOTICE TO OUR SERVICE USERS: Leeds Mencap services and COVID-19

IMPORTANT NOTICE TO OUR SERVICE USERS: Leeds Mencap services and COVID-19

Please see details about Leeds Mencap services and COVID-19. 

1st June 2020

On 28th May the government announced measures to ease the lock down measures that have been in place since March.  These measures have only permitted more contact between individuals and households at 2m distance, outside.

As the majority of our services take place indoors this means we are not yet able to re-start face to face services safely.

We are in the process of working out what measures we will need to put in place to be able to restart services in the building whilst keeping the people we are supporting and staff as safe as possible.  We will also be considering the risks that might be there for individual children and young people and so staff may be in touch with you over the coming weeks to discuss with you what you/your child would need to be put in place to feel confident about returning. 

In the meantime we will continue to keep in touch with you by phone and email.  We hope the activity packs and zoom sessions are helping you to keep in touch and keep occupied.  We’d be really interested to hear whether there are any other activities you would like us to try and organise that can be done within the current guidance. 

We look forward to seeing you all again and hope that this will not be too far into the future.

If you have questions please contact us on info@leedsmencap.org.uk or on 0113 235 1331

For all the up to date guidance from the Government please go to https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus

Take care

Thank you

Cath Lee, Chief Executive

Grace, parent of Molly

Grace, parent of Molly

Before we came to Hawthorn, I was constantly anxious and stressed about ensuring I supported and encouraged Molly’s development on a daily basis.

At Hawthorn, not only is Molly able to thrive with experienced staff who pre-empt issues and challenges and suggest solutions around development, but I have somewhere to go to ask questions (and I have asked thousands). Navigating the world of Down syndrome has been challenging and unexpected, but Hawthorn has allowed me to relax and be just Molly’s mum.

It has been incredible having the support and advice from staff, who understand the journey that we are on. This has meant that we can focus on Molly as an individual and not just on what might be typical, given her condition.

Molly has made leaps and bounds in her development, through suggestions from the staff at Hawthorn, other parents I have met here and the facilities and positive environment at the nursery.

Leeds Mencap is invaluable to us.

My time in Lockdown – By Kai from Leeds Mencap’s Friday Club

My Time in Lockdown

My Time in Lockdown – By Kai from Leeds Mencap’s Friday Club

When Boris Johnston said on the TV that schools were to close, and lots of business too, which meant that I had to stay at home with my family and I was not allowed out like normal, I found it quite difficult at first.

I had my good days and my bad days, with my behaviour not always being the best. My school started to send work home for me to do, but I am now starting to slowly adjust to it. It has been quite difficult on the weekends, as unfortunately I can’t go out, so I find that a bit of a shame.

In April it was my birthday, but I could not see all of my family, friends or relatives and I found that really sad, but they did manage to video call me. When the day came, I had a fantastic day and got loads of nice presents, cards and messages on Facebook, even from my family’s friends that I didn’t even know!

When this all first started, I thought this would only last a few days, but now that turned into weeks, then weeks turned into more than a month. I will be so glad when this is all over and I get to my normal routine back.

IMPORTANT NOTICE TO OUR SERVICE USERS: Leeds Mencap services and COVID-19

IMPORTANT NOTICE TO OUR SERVICE USERS: Leeds Mencap services and COVID-19

Following the guidance issued by the government on 16th March, we have decided to close all our services for children and young people from Monday 23rd March 2020 until further notice.  We will also not be running our playschemes during the Easter holidays. 

Many of our services bring children and young people and their parents into close contact with each other and so we feel we would be exposing people to undue risk by keeping services running.

Our Family Support Service will continue running and so staff will continue to be available by phone and email to support you.

A letter has been sent today to all parents and families who currently use our services.

We will continue to update you by email, Facebook and on our website as government guidance changes. 

I hope you understand our reason for taking the decision to close our services. 

We look forward to seeing you all again and hope that this will not be too far into the future.

If you have questions about the services running this week, please contact us on info@leedsmencap.org.uk or on 0113 235 1331

For all the up to date guidance from the Goverment – please see here

Thank you

Cath Lee, Chief Executive

Services for children and young people 2020

Little Hiccups

We offer a safe environment with a soft play and sensory room along with sensory toys suitable for all needs. It is a relaxing atmosphere where your child will be allowed to play and discover the world at their own pace. We aim to put on activities (such as baby massage and music sessions) during the sessions, that families can choose to join in with, or can simply play and relax. The group is aimed at Under 5s. Cost: Suggested donation of £1 per session per family

Other activities and holiday sessions are also available.

Dates and Times:  Every Thursday, 1.00pm – 2.30pm at Leeds Mencap, The Vinery Centre, 20 Vinery Terrace, Leeds, LS9 9LU

Find out morehttps://www.littlehiccups.co.uk/stay-n-play/ or call: 0783 123 0741

Play, Fun, Learn

A group for children aged 8 – 12  years with a learning disability.

Free to attend.

Children can take part in activities, such as: Sports, drama, dancing, baking, art.

Parents and carers are welcome to stay, or take a few hours of respite.

Dates and Times: 10am to 2pm 40 weekends per year in Leeds. Saturdays are in Guiseley and Sundays are in East End Park at The Vinery Centre.

Find out morehttps://peopleinaction.org.uk/ or call 0113 244 3729

Leeds Mencap’s Siblings Group

Siblings is a great place for young people aged 8 to 16 who have a brother or sister with a learning disability to come together, have fun and share their experiences.

The young people themselves decide what they would like to do each week – previous activities have included baking, harry potter theme nights, sports days, slime making, games nights and talent shows. We also run trips out – going to local venues such as bowling, the cinema and meals out.

We also offer young people support to understand their sibling’s disability better and the opportunity to share their experience of having a brother or sister with a learning disability within a welcoming and supportive environment.

Dates and Times: 6-8pm on Wednesdays during term time (new day from 22nd April 2020)

Find out morehttp://www.leedsmencap.org.uk/support-for-young-people/sibling-support-group-for-5-18-year-olds or call 0113 235 1331

Sports Works

Multi-sports for young people with additional needs (aged 8-18). Sport is used as a tool to develop on key life skills such as communication, confidence, team-work and social interaction. Popular activities covered range from football, cricket, basketball, circle games, tail tag and 30+ activities. Young people are given the choice of how they would like for the day to plan out. 

Dates and Times: 10am-3pm every Saturday excluding school holidays. 

During school holidays, Sport Works run sessions on:

Wednesday and Friday at Middleton Leisure Centre

Tuesday and Thursday at John Smeaton Leisure Centre

Find our more: https://www.sportworksltd.co.uk/where-we-work/yorkshire/ or call 0191 5800 120

Aireborough Support Activities Scheme – residentials

Residential short breaks for children aged 8-18 years who live city-wide (residentials are only available to children who don’t receive any other overnight respite).

Children get the opportunity to take part in activities such as animal care, climbing, biking/adapted bikes, canoeing, gorge walking, archery, abseiling, art and sensory activities depending on the setting. We visit the following outdoor centres – Lineham Farm and Herd Farm in Leeds and Low Mill, North Yorkshire. Herd Farm and Low Mill are more suited to slightly older or more adventurous children so we take from 10 up to 18 years.

We try to do as much as we can to relieve any fears parents may have about their child being away and put things into place for each child to make it possible and to suit the needs of specific children.

Dates and Times: 

2020-2021 residentials are:

Lineham Farm – 24 – 26 April, 23 – 25 October, 6 – 8 November & 20 – 22 March 2021.

Low Mill – 29 – 31 May. Herd Farm – 25 – 27 September.

Find out morehttps://www.aireborough-scheme.co.uk/ or call 0113 460 3206

Wheels 4 Fun 

A community cycling club run by volunteer enthusiasts with experience in disability and cycle training. Based at Meanwood Valley Urban Farm. 

Find our morewww.wheels4funleeds.wordpress.com or call 0191 5800 120

LS-Ten 

Skateboard, scooter and BMX sessions suitable for all ages and capabilities. All equipment is provided and tuition is available. Sessions can be run at times to suit participant needs. 

Find out morewww.ls-ten.org or call 0113 244 6015 

Friday Club - Jim and Emily’s story

Friday Club – Jim and Emily’s story

Emily was born with a rare brain disorder which affects her eyesight and coordination.  She also has a learning disability and this meant that growing up she needed extra support at school and home.  She found it difficult to access social activities because of a lack of support for individuals with additional needs.

She’s now 24 and has been going to Leeds Mencap since 2009. She first attended their holiday play scheme when she was 14. Emily thought it was absolutely brilliant and loved it from day one. Unlike many of the places we went, there was no focus on what she couldn’t do, but just a focus on what she could do. For the first time, Emily was given choices and she was allowed to get involved at her own pace.

Emily attends college three days a week where she learns life skills like handling money, cookery and shopping.  In her spare time she also sings in a local choir and has been involved in volunteering and at an over 55s club. She loves going with her support worker and singing all the old songs like Molly Malone and We’ll Meet Again!

She started at Leeds Mencap’s Friday club in the summer of 2017. She goes with her boyfriend Thomas and they call it ‘date night’. Emily loves the club and her favourite things to do are singing and dancing and having a good laugh with her friends. She enjoys contributing ideas to the planning sessions and she feels that her suggestions are valued.  Shortly after joining Friday club she took part in a sponsored Zumba-thon to raise money for Mencap.  She is really proud of this achievement.

The Friday club gives Emily an opportunity to have a night out in a safe environment but more importantly for her, it means that she’s being treated like an adult and it gives here some independence. This also means that as family we can take our younger daughter somewhere else and get a bit of a break.

In the coming weeks Emily is particularly looking forward to the Valentine’s party and Talent Show.  We are so grateful for Leeds Mencap’s Friday Club, which Emily describes as exhilarating!

Friday Club is a social club for adults aged 18-25 with learning disabilities, register you interest via the form below.

Make your birthday even more meaningful

Will you set up a birthday fundraiser on Facebook for Leeds Mencap? It’s a really easy way to show your support and raise important donations to help children and families in Leeds.

How to set up your birthday fundraiser

1) Log into your Facebook and go to – https://www.facebook.com/fund/LeedsMencap/

2) Choose how much you’re aiming to raise.

3) Tell your story about why you are supporting Leeds Mencap.

3) Pick a cover photo

4) Congratulations! Your fundraiser has been published! Now you can invite your friends.

Would you run for charity?

Would you run for charity?

Tom Metcalfe tells us about his experience running the Yorkshire Marathon for Leeds Mencap.

In recent years, there has been a massive increase in people running in general which has had a knock on impact for those choosing to run for charity.

Many people choose to run for a charity in memory of somebody or a cause close to their hearts – for a friend or to show their support for their local charity. This makes the experience ever so rewarding, not to mention that you are getting fit whilst doing so!

We caught up with Tom Metcalfe who ran the Yorkshire Marathon for us this year and raised a fantastic £238.10! Tom tells us about the challenges and the highlights of running a marathon.

He describes his experience as both powerful and a real rollercoaster.

“I chose to run for Leeds Mencap to help raise awareness of the crucial work that they do in and around Leeds, and to raise important funds that will make a real impact on peoples’ lives in our community.

Training for and running the marathon a real rollercoaster.  For me, the highlight was breaking through into the final couple of miles after a tough 22 – 24 mile stint.  I can’t recommend running a marathon for Leeds Mencap enough – it’s a powerful way to learn more about yourself and what you can achieve, but also to raise awareness of and raise funds to enable Leeds Mencap to continue to improve the lives of people living with learning disabilities in Leeds, and their families.”

Tom’s decision to run for us means we can continue to provide for the children and young people that benefit from our services. Without your continued support we wouldn’t be able to help our families the way we do.

Do you fancy doing something different today? We have one space left in the London Marathon 2020 and for those who would like a bit of time to train, spaces are available to book for the October 2020 Yorkshire Marathon. We’ll be here to support you every step of the way.

Please contact us on info@leedsmencap.org.uk or 0113 235 1331 to find out more.

A video is worth a thousand words

A video is worth a thousand words…….

Hear directly from some of the families we support – in our Hawthorn Specialist Playroom and Thursday Club

Watch this video to hear about Grace’s experience with her daughter Molly – in Hawthorn, our specialist playroom for children aged 0-3 with learning disabilities and additional needs.

GRACE AND MOLLY

See what it’s like to be a member of our Thursday Club for young people aged 14-18 who have learning disabilities and the impact for parents.

MICHELE AND BRADLEY

Learn more about all our services in our thank you to our fabulous supporters!

THANK YOU SUPPORTERS

Hear from another mum from our Hawthorn playroom about how we have helped her and her son in the crucial early years of life.

LOUISE AND JOSEPH

As a small charity, we need volunteers and fundraisers to help us keep going. These videos were created by some fabulous volunteers for which we are so grateful.

If you could help us by doing some fundraising, donating directly or using your skills to volunteer, please do get in touch.

info@leedsmencap.org.uk 0113 235 1331 

We’re looking for Fundraising Volunteers

We’re looking for Fundraising Volunteers

Leeds Mencap is looking for enthusiastic volunteers who can help us raise more funds, engage more people in the community and create awareness of Leeds Mencap across Leeds.

This exciting role is varied and you’ll get the opportunity to learn about fundraising, be involved in organising events and meet new people in your local community.

Leeds Mencap is a local, independent charity that helps people with learning disabilities across Leeds. Although affiliated to Royal Mencap Society, we receive no funding from them and need to raise all our own funds. Life is challenging and often isolating for people with learning disabilities and we are there to ensure families get the best advice and support they need so their children can fulfil their potential in life. 

Read the full Volunteer Job description here

You can contact Sarah Hooker for an informal chat about this volunteer role or to apply.

Sarah.Hooker@LeedsMencap.org.uk

0113 235 1331

Makaton Level 3 Workshop - Friday 15th and Monday 18th November

Makaton Level 3 Workshop – Friday 15th and Monday 18th November

Suitable for anyone who has already completed a Makaton Foundation or beginners’ course.

Certified Makaton Tutor Andy McLoughlin is running a two-day Makaton Level 3 Workshop at The Vinery Centre in November, covering the signs and symbols from the Makaton Core Vocabulary Stages 5-8.

PRICE: £130.

SPECIAL OFFER: 20% discount available to anyone who has attended any previous Makaton training with Leeds Mencap.

Andy McLoughlin is a Licensed Makton tutor. Andy has been using Makaton for ten years and has been a tutor for more than four years. This year he upgraded to become a Regional Tutor which allows him to teach the Foundation and Enhancement workshops alongside the Beginners’ and Follow Up workshops. Andy can also run the workshops externally to The Vinery centre, allowing him to reach a wider audience. Andy uses Makaton every day to communicate with a variety of different users.

“Learning Makaton is a great way to interact, people love getting involved and are always keen to learn new signs” – Andy 

To book onto the course or for more information, please contact Andy on 07758 099225 or andymc.makatontutor@gmail.com.

Makaton Foundation Course: new dates announced

Makaton Foundation Course: new dates announced

Certified Makaton Tutor Andy McLoughlin is running another two-day Makaton Foundation level course on Friday 27th September and Monday 30th September.

For those who have experienced the frustration of being unable to communicate meaningfully or effectively, Makaton really can help. Makaton takes away that frustration and enables individuals to connect with other people and the world around them. This opens up all kinds of possibilities.

Makaton is extremely flexible as it can be personalised to an individual’s needs and used at a level suitable for them. It can be used to:

  • share thoughts, choices and emotions
  • label real objects, pictures, photos and places
  • take part in games and songs
  • listen to, read and tell stories
  • create recipes, menus and shopping lists
  • write letters and messages
  • help people find their way around public buildings

Today over 100,000 children and adults use Makaton symbols and signs. Most people start using Makaton as children then naturally stop using the signs and symbols as they no longer need them. However, some people will need to use Makaton for their whole lives.

Andy McLoughlin is a Licensed Makton tutor. Andy has been using Makaton for ten years and has been a tutor for more than four years. This year he upgraded to become a Regional Tutor which allows him to teach the Foundation and Enhancement workshops alongside the Beginners’ and Follow Up workshops. Andy can also run the workshops externally to The Vinery centre, allowing him to reach a wider audience. Andy uses Makaton every day to communicate with a variety of different users.

“Learning Makaton is a great way to interact, people love getting involved and are always keen to learn new signs” – Andy 

To book onto the course or for more information, please contact Andy on 07758 099225 or andymc.makatontutor@gmail.com

Makaton Foundation Course

Makaton Foundation Course

Certified Makaton Tutor Andy McLoughlin is running a two day Makaton Foundation level course on Friday 30th August and Monday 2nd September. For more details please see below.

For those who have experienced the frustration of being unable to communicate meaningfully or effectively, Makaton really can help. Makaton takes away that frustration and enables individuals to connect with other people and the world around them. This opens up all kinds of possibilities.

Makaton is extremely flexible as it can be personalised to an individual’s needs and used at a level suitable for them. It can be used to:

  • share thoughts, choices and emotions
  • label real objects, pictures, photos and places
  • take part in games and songs
  • listen to, read and tell stories
  • create recipes, menus and shopping lists
  • write letters and messages
  • help people find their way around public buildings

Today over 100,000 children and adults use Makaton symbols and signs. Most people start using Makaton as children then naturally stop using the signs and symbols as they no longer need them. However, some people will need to use Makaton for their whole lives.

Andy McLoughlin is a Licensed Makton tutor. Andy has been using Makaton for 10 years and has been a tutor for over 4 years. This year he upgraded to become a Regional Tutor which allows him to teach the Foundation and Enhancement workshops alongside the Beginners’ and Follow Up workshops. Andy can also run the workshops externally to The Vinery centre, allowing him to reach a wider audience. Andy uses Makaton every day to communicate with a variety of different users.

“Learning Makaton is a great way to interact, people love getting involved and are always keen to learn new signs” – Andy 

To book onto the courses or if you would like further information, please contact Andy on 07758 099225 or email him at andymc.makatontutor@gmail.com

Our long lasting relationship with Asda

Our long lasting relationship with Asda

Sarah from Killingbeck Asda tells us about the support they’ve given to Leeds Mencap over the last couple of years and the support they’ve provided for us.

I had the pleasure of being introduced to Leeds Mencap not long after starting my role as the Asda Community Champion at the store in Killingbeck. I was invited to take a tour of their brand new centre on Vinery Terrace and see how Asda Foundation funding had supported this. They received a massive £18,000 which went towards their kitchen and kitchenette.

Since my first introduction I have worked with Leeds Mencap, through booking them for in-store bag-pack fundraising and donating items towards their activities. We most recently got all of the colleagues involved with a ‘Wear A Cap Day’ during Learning Disability Week 2019. 

We have also spoken about possible ‘Significant Local Community Projects’ funding for the development of an Outdoor Play area to benefit users of their two nurseries (Hawthorn Specialist Playroom and Jimbo’s Community Nursery) as well as other community groups, and we look forward to discussing this in the future.

Through Asda’s National Charity partnership with BBC Children In Need, our colleagues and customers have been raising money to help fund projects that support disadvantaged children across UK develop vital life skills through play. One such project is Leeds Mencap and they receive funding for staffing in their specialist nursery.

I had the opportunity to pop down to the centre last year, to join in play with the toddlers and hear from staff and mums to understand how the nursery meets the needs of the children in their development. This experience was extremely rewarding. It’s great to know of Leeds Mencap’s connection to Children In Need and this had added more of a personal touch to our fundraising efforts in-store! (https://corporate.asda.com/blog/2018/08/01/were-backing-bbc-children-in-need-so-more-children-can-enjoy-the-power-of-play)

From the stories I’ve been told by people who have benefited from Leeds Mencap’s work and from positive feedback I’ve received it is evident that Leeds Mencap are making a real, positive difference to the lives of people with learning disabilities, their families and the local community, and we wish them every success with future ventures.

Winston Solicitors score a Hat-trick with latest charity win

Roundhay-based law firm, Winston Solicitors LLP, has won the Leeds Mencap Accumulator Challenge for the third time in five years.

Team Winston Solicitors, the defending champions, beat off stiff competition this year from fellow legal eagles, Mills & Reeve, and a team from Royal Mencap Leeds by taking an initial £30 stake and turning it into a whopping £2,822.82 profit to help local children and young adults with learning disabilities.

Winston Solicitors’ success was greatly boosted by the firm’s now famous and eagerly anticipated annual quiz evening – devised and presented by Partner Paul Grindley – and the staff also organised an office shopping and mocktails event and a grand raffle to raise the most funds in the competition and retain the Accumulator Challenge crown. Their first win was back in 2016.

Leeds Mencap, a local independent charity which provides services and activities for children and young adults with learning disabilities and their families across Leeds, was delighted with the backing it received for the sixth annual Accumulator Challenge.

“Our Accumulator Challenge is proving to be a popular way for local companies to support the vital work we do throughout the city. It gives them the opportunity to be really creative and raise funds in a way that best suits the staff and the firm – meaning it is great for team building and employee engagement as well as helping us to continue running our much-needed support services for local families,” said Nicky Massen, Leeds Mencap’s Fundraising Development Officer.

Jonathan Winston, Managing Partner of Winston Solicitors, said: “Taking part in the Accumulator Challenge is an annual highlight. We strive to put the ‘fun’ into ‘fun’draising so that our colleagues and supporters can enjoy taking part in the events we organise. Great team work is key to raising as much as possible for Leeds Mencap, a local charity we are proud to support.”

Representatives from Winston Solicitors, Mills & Reeve and Royal Mencap Leeds received their respective first, second and third prizes during a presentation ceremony sponsored by Leeds-based communications services provider, aql, at Leeds Mencap’s home, The Vinery Centre, in East End Park.                 

Click here to go to Winston Solicitors LLP’s website.  

Kai’s Story

Kai’s Story

Kai attends our Thursday Club, which is a social group for 14-18 year-olds with learning disabilities. Learn more about him and his story below.

My name is Kai. I am 17 years old and I go to a local SILC which is a specialist inclusive learning centre for people like me with additional needs.

I go to Leeds Mencap Thursday Club, I enjoy coming to Leeds Mencap because I get to socialise with my friends but not only that staff too. The staff members here are very friendly and my experience here has been truly a success.

My favourite part of the club is chatting and getting to know everyone more and experiencing the time here. I enjoy playing snooker with people and I love also getting to know other people and what they like e.g. minecraft and other games too.  The club is good. I get to socialize with people who I don’t get to see and play games which I don’t have at home.

The centre here is good, they have a wide range of activities such as a pool table and a sensory room which is classic. We have a ball pool which we enjoy going to. We do lots of different activities each week even out and about in our local community and we go to places such as bowling.

Recently I was chosen to attend the Child Friendly Leeds Award, in which we got shortlisted for “Best place in Leeds for Children and Young People” which was a big success. I enjoyed the evening with Gemma and Esme and Molly. It was a good night.

My message to people is if you have a disability like me, the power is to join this youth club it really makes me smile and I am sure it would with you if you join it too it will make you and your life even better.

How Hawthorn Specialist Playroom made such a difference to Dawn and Eloise

How Hawthorn Specialist Playroom made such a difference to Dawn and Eloise

One mum’s story of adapting to the “new world” that having a child with learning disability can bring, and the invaluable support her family received that needs more funding

Leeds Mencap provides support through the Hawthorn Specialist playroom at The Vinery Centre in East Leeds. Hawthorn is a safe and welcoming playroom available to children aged 0-3 with a learning disability from across Leeds. It provides expert early support and intervention to 54 children each year, many of whom have complex needs and health issues, physical disabilities or sensory loss.

The specialist staff at Hawthorn focus on developing vital skills such as feeding, communication and walking, so that children get the best possible start in these early years. Alongside this, the parents receive vital emotional support as well as practical guidance in what can be a very challenging time. 

Dawn is mum to Eloise and Dawn wants to get the word out about how Hawthorn has helped Eloise and their family.

“Our daughter Eloise was diagnosed with 22q.11 Deletion Syndrome in August 2016 when she was 11 months old, and after 2 major surgeries (cleft repair and open heart surgery) we spent the best part of 6 months trying to adapt to our ‘new world’.  When we first met Kath, who is Leeds Mencap’s Family Support Worker, she showed us Hawthorn and explained the support that both Eloise and our family would get. After a home visit and a short wait, Eloise was offered a place on Mondays and started in May 2017. 

Hawthorn has given us so much, both for Eloise and to me as a new to role parent of a child with additional needs.

The support and development Eloise has received has been exceptional. She has come on so much in the playroom, through tailored development plans, focussing on her communication – initially using Makaton sign language and then developing her speech.  Her gross motor skills have come on so much. When she arrived she could not walk and the accessibility of apparatus in the playroom encouraged her to move around. Her social skills have come on beautifully and Eloise has developed lovely relationships with the other children, especially looking after the smaller less mobile children.  When Eloise turned 2 and received 15 hours of funding for pre-school, the Hawthorn team liaised with her new nursery, inviting them into Hawthorn for a meeting to discuss her needs, plans, development and next steps.  

In terms of support for myself, Hawthorn has given me a network of other parents who totally understand.  Although all of our children have different conditions, we are all in the same place in terms of appointments, specialists, accessing services and often frustrations.  Being allowed to sit with my peers for 5 hours each week has allowed me to build a network of people who just ‘get it’. This coupled with access to the staff, who are so incredibly knowledgeable, has improved the quality of our lives. 

Without Hawthorn, I’m sure I would have muddled through. However, with Hawthorn, I have been able to navigate successfully, sharing experiences with others, receiving support and advice from experts. It has become more apparent as time goes by that there are no central services available to support parents of children with additional needs.  A great example being our Health Visitor who has had no contact since visiting Eloise at Hawthorn for her 27 month review over a year ago.  Being left in limbo is somewhat daunting. Hawthorn fills that gap. 

I will be forever grateful for the support we have received during our time at Hawthorn.  Although I will be sad when Eloise leaves (because Hawthorn can currently only support children up to their third birthday), we will take away the skills and knowledge that have set the foundations for our family going forward.

Thank you for everything.”

Leeds Mencap are a local and independent charity and we need to raise all our own funds. While affiliated to Royal Mencap Society (Mencap) the national charity, we receive no funding from them and receive no statutory or NHS funding for the Hawthorn service.

The charity is currently reaching out for donations to support Hawthorn and our Family Support work. Please donate online or contact us to see how you could get involved with fundraising or volunteering info@leedsmencap.org.uk0113 235 1331 to help us continue this vital support for people like Eloise and her family.  

Jess and Harvey’s story

Jess and Harvey’s story

For many families, Leeds Mencap provides a place of reassurance – somewhere to visit, relax and gain professional support, advice and practical help for the whole family, long term. We explore the story of Jess and how our services were so crucial to her and her son at the early stages.

Jess is mum to Harvey, who has been diagnosed with autism, sensory issues and developmental delays as well as stomach and sleep problems. She and Harvey began visiting our Hawthorn Specialist Playroom, a specialised setting that provides early intervention and support for young children with a range of learning disabilities.

Our staff also introduced Jess to family support services and she began to have regular meetings with our family support worker, Kath, who has extensive experience supporting families. Kath supported Jess by helping her to complete the Disability Living Allowance (DLA) application, signposting her to new groups that she and Harvey could join and helping him to get school transport. Kath was also there for Jess if she ever needed to chat through any concerns about Harvey’s health.

Jess said: ‘Leeds Mencap had a huge impact on my life. For Harvey, Hawthorn gave him his first taste of education with friendly and trustworthy staff. It opened his life up to new groups and enabled him to access sensory equipment which proved vital to his development.

For both of us, it has given us an opportunity to bond as a mother and son. What’s more, I have been able to meet with other parents in the same position as me and share my concerns. The support I’ve received has been life changing and I’m eternally grateful.’

Through our support, Harvey has now moved on and has settled in at a local special needs school but the doors at Leeds Mencap will always be open.

Learn more about the services we offer to families.

Places available in Jimbo’s Holiday Club, at Leeds Mencap

Places available in Jimbo’s Holiday Club, at Leeds Mencap

We currently have places available in our Holiday Club for children aged 4 to 11. The next holiday club is running during May half term from Tuesday 28th May to Friday 31st May

Our holiday club is packed with interesting activities to keep children entertained during the school holidays, such as visiting local places of interest. We are however fully aware that this is their down-time from what is a very hectic school life! With that in mind, the holiday club is less structured, allowing children to decide how they would like to spend their time, whilst also offering them a wide range of fun activities to keep them smiling.

From energetic outdoor play, such as playing football, rounder’s or den making/cooking on a camping stove to quieter activities such as reading, drawing, baking and crafts, we will make sure that there is something for everyone. Budding actors might put on a play and those wanting to relax may want to do some baking. It’s all about having fun and enjoying the school holidays!

Holiday Club times and fees

  • Full day 8am-6pm £30 per day.
  • AM half day 8am-1pm £15 per day.
  • PM half day 1pm-6pm £15 per day.

Fees need to be paid at the point of booking.

To find out more about Holiday Club, please call Jimbo’s Community Nursery on 0113 467 3050.

Hannah and Annette’s story, Tuesday Youth Club

Featured: Hannah and Annette’s story, Tuesday Youth Club

Hannah has been a member of Tuesday Youth Club since March 2017. Hannah’s mum, Annette shares their story and how it has had a big impact for both of them.

Hannah’s overall well-being has improved since joining the youth club. Due to our locality, services for children are limited and I’d go as far as to say that for someone with Hannah’s complex needs, inclusivity has been ‘hard to find’. I recognised as a parent that Hannah has a right to play alongside her peers but I also found it’s easy to lose confidence in taking your child out.

Before Hannah started at Leeds Mencap, I was really concerned about ‘social isolation’, but my fears have now gone, as she’s been able to explore all sorts of activities with other young people. 

She’s having fun and although she’s non-verbal, she laughs, claps and jumps to let you know she’s happy.

It has enabled Hannah to be part of a community, and to stretch her imagination. She’s had experiences that support her physical growth as well as her social and emotional development.

As an example, they had a sensory session soon after Hannah started, to explore new environments and textures. As Hannah has visual impairment, floor surfaces, lighting and room size can affect her ability to understand the world. Having this experience early on had a direct influence on her confidence to move independently within the building and to feel happy there.

Hannah is now more confident and happier, and I feel this comes a lot from the planning and the dedication of staff and ‘valuing’ each child as an individual. Hannah’s needs are complex – she has visual impairment, autism and severe learning delay – yet each week the staff are consistent in their approach which is excellent. They do this by understanding each child and giving ‘time’.

The club has also given me emotional support, as I get to meet other families in the parents room who have difficulties and challenges. It means that I can share information and discuss issues in a respectful group, with a bond of trust and honesty— we can develop the parent community, and we meet up now outside of Leeds Mencap.

It’s good for your health!

I feel motivated by the positive staff and encouraged that Hannah is doing so well. I felt insecure at first, thinking maybe they wouldn’t want Hannah. I really feel that I would have been more isolated if I hadn’t found this group. It’s also great that it’s weekly, as it helps my family have our own time, for example. Hannah’s sister had the space and time to revise for her exams.

I can see a future with Leeds Mencap and I’m looking for Hannah to join the Me 2 Dance group.

How your money helps: £50 pays for a sensory percussion workshop for Tuesday Youth Club to help children express themselves and build confidence in social groups.

Lora, Ben and Phoenix’s story

Lora, Ben and Phoenix’s story

Phoenix was welcomed into the world by Lora and Ben in 2016. He was born 10 weeks premature and was diagnosed with Periventricular leukomalacia (PVL), which then led to a diagnosis of Cerebal Palsy and learning disabilities.

Phoenix has trouble moving and spends much of the day in specialist equipment which helps to increase his mobility, with Lora providing full time care. Since the summer of 2017 he has been attending Leeds Mencap’s Hawthorn Specialist Playroom. The Hawthorn Specialist Playroom provides tailored early intervention for children with a learning disability aged between 0-3 years. It is the only centre of its kind in Leeds and it provides support at a crucial stage of development for the child. Phoenix has settled into Hawthorn really well. He is a brave and resolute little boy and has become good friends with the other children. Our expert staff are working with him and Lora on developing his mobility and strength, and he is improving all the time.

Here’s what Lora had to say about the Hawthorn Specialist Playroom.

’Hawthorn is my sanctuary. All the staff are so caring and supportive and they just get what it’s like to have a child with a disability. Kath (Hawthorn Manager) is just amazing. She goes way beyond what she has to do and does so much more for each and every one of us. Kath’s work doesn’t end when we leave our day at Hawthorn. She is there to support us throughout the week and will always endeavour to get in touch and help if there is anything we need. It’s amazing to know I have someone on my side when I feel like the world is against me or if I just don’t know what to do. My world is a better place because of Kath and Hawthorn. The world needs more Kaths, it would be a much better place if so!’

In May 2018, Ben cycled from London to Paris over 4 days to raise money for Leeds Mencap and SNAPS. At over 70 miles a day, Ben really tested himself and raised over £3,400 for Leeds Mencap!

If you’re feeling inspired and would like to take on a challenge please see the events section on our website. If nothing takes your fancy, why not organise something yourself? Contact us on 0113 235 1331 and we will be happy to help you organise your own event.

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