Imagine if you could give the greatest gift this Christmas? Supporting a child with a learning disability at the very beginning means they get the very best start in life.
Can you help us this Christmas?
Help us give more children like Thomas the best gift this Christmas.
At Leeds Mencap we firmly believe that the earlier your child can be supported to learn and develop the better. The first 3 years of any child’s life are vitally important as their brains develop quickly at this stage.
Children with learning disabilities are no different and so at our specialist playroom, called Hawthorn, very young children with learning disabilities are supported to learn skills at their own pace.
This early help gives the children a strong foundation ahead of school and means they can fulfil their potential in life.
Read Thomas’s story
Thomas started Hawthorn when he was just over a year old in November 2018, after he was diagnosed with global development delay.
At the beginning, he needed lots of help: he was non-mobile and unable to sit unaided. Using physio exercises and lots of support and encouragement, we were able to help Thomas to sit unaided, learn to crawl and a year on Thomas has now learnt to walk and explore the room at his own pace. To communicate, Thomas can say single words, point and use facial expressions.
Thomas has made great progress within the 2 years he has been coming to Leeds Mencap, and the team continue to work closely with Zoe to help Thomas to grow and develop and to be more confident.
Thomas’s key worker Jess says,
“The difference the playroom has made to Thomas and his family is that we are able to provide early specialist help. Providing this support at the very beginning is vital. By setting small targets and meeting weekly, we can help Thomas to develop all the skills he needs and work with his mum to give advice and support when needed.
We also offer a safe space for Thomas to come and make friends. The playroom also gives parents that ‘bit of a break’ which they don’t always get at home, plus a place to come and chat with other parents, where they can relax, knowing that their child is being supported and cared for by specialist trained staff having fun and thriving.”
Thomas’s mum Zoe says,
“Lockdown has been extremely hard for me and my family, but the support we have received has been a lifeline. The team phone regularly to check in to see if we need help. We also agree goals and targets for Thomas for his development so we can work on them at home.
We both love coming to Leeds Mencap. It makes a huge difference as Thomas is getting the early support that he needs as well as the chance to socialise with other children but it’s good for me too, because I meet other families who are in similar situations, who also help support us through our journey.”
Zoe and Thomas took part in the first of our videos for the Imagine if… campaign. You can watch the video here: https://youtu.be/QMNxMrdBj28
Help us raise £20,000 this Christmas to give young children with learning disabilities the greatest gift of all.
£50 could pay for Makaton training for a member of staff
£30 could pay for sensory items and toys for the nursery
£20 could pay for a support session with a parent who needs some help with their child at this isolating and worrying time.
£15 could pay for arts and crafts materials in our specialist playroom
The Imagine if… campaign, features families and children as well as staff, volunteers, businesses and supporters talking about having a learning disability and their relationship with Leeds Mencap.
15,000 people in Leeds have a learning disability in Leeds: with this number growing Leeds Mencap are determined to get people in the city talking about the issues that families and people with learning disabilities face.
Imagine if…short films
We have produced a series of nine short films. Each with a different aim and focus, this might be to show the varied services that Leeds Mencap provide, having a learning disability from the perspective of parents, sibling or the young person, or ways that businesses, individuals and the community of Leeds can get involved and support our work.
In the first film, we hear from two parents on how Leeds Mencap is supporting their journey.
In the second film, we hear from our CEO, Cath Lee, parents and siblings, focusing on introducing Leeds Mencap and all that we do.
The third film shows the impact of our work.
In the fourth and fifth films, we hear from some of the young people who attend our Friday Club and what they like doing, their thoughts on Christmas and aspirations for the future.
You can watch the films here:
Ways to get involved…
Take part in The Great Big Leeds Mencap Singalong. We are asking businesses, families, schools and individuals to all learn ‘We Wish You a Merry Christmas’ using Makaton signs. With a step-by-step video teaching you all the signs you need and how to put them together, learn this well known Christmas song and raise funds for Leeds Mencap this Christmas. – download the pack here or click here for full details: https://www.leedsmencap.org.uk/events/the-great-big-leeds-mencap-singalong/
Support our Imagine if campaign and made a donation: https://www.leedsmencap.org.uk/donate/
Check out our events at www.leedsmencap.org.uk/events – you can get involved at home with friends or with colleagues
Follow us on Facebook @Leedsmencap or Twitter or LinkedIn and share our videos, news and stories with your friends
Sign up to receive our monthly newsletters https://www.leedsmencap.org.uk/newsletter-sign-up/ and encourage your friends and colleagues to do the same.
Why we really need your help
In a recent survey, 94% of Leeds Mencap families said that they have felt more isolated during Covid-19. The impact of the pandemic on families who have children and young people with learning disabilities has put both parents and their children under incredible strain, with many experiencing increased anxiety and worsening mental and emotional health.
By supporting our campaign, we can continue to support families when they need us most.