Ruth Owen
Ruth Owen, Chief Executive of pan-disability charity Leonard Cheshire.

 

Leading disability charity Leonard Cheshire has been given a £3 million donation from the COVID-19 Support Fund to help give people with disabilities the opportunity to develop new skills and lead change in their communities.

Leonard Cheshire was one of the final recipients to receive a donation from the Fund, established by the insurance and long-term savings industry last year to help those with the greatest need.

About two thirds of disabled people said the pandemic was affecting their wellbeing, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

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A survey undertaken by Mencap last year showed the devastating impact of the pandemic on people with a learning disability.

Family carers said that 69 per cent had seen a detrimental impact on their mental health, 73 per cent on their relationships, 54 per cent on their physical health and 67 per cent on their independence.

Leonard Cheshire plans to expand its award-winning skills development programme ‘Can Do’ for individuals aged between 16 and 35 and who have a disability or long-term health condition.

It has stated that the donation will enable the programme to run for the next three years in multiple locations across the UK.

Connecting people to their community in fun and engaging activities, designed around the interests of participants, helps build confidence and new skills, according to Leonard Cheshire.

It also enables participants to take the next step towards their own goals.

Those taking part can also gain a City & Guild certificate or an SQA Award by completing a 16 hour Building Communities project.

Ruth Owen, Chief Executive of pan-disability charity Leonard Cheshire, said: “The pandemic has disproportionately taken its toll on disabled people and we now have an opportunity to begin working towards an inclusive recovery.

“This significant donation enables us to continue funding Can Do, a community programme that offers opportunity at a time when disabled people need it most.

“We’d like to thank the COVID-19 support fund for enabling Leonard Cheshire to carry on nurturing inclusive communities across the UK.”

Leonard Cheshire’s ‘Can Do’ programme operates in 19 locations across the UK, and last year more than 2,743 young people took part in its activities.

While the country has been in lockdown, ‘Can Do’ had to move all community activities onto digital platforms in order to keep people connected and deliver core outcomes of confidence building and skills development.

Most recently, the charity invited paralympian Olivia Breen to co-design a series of home workouts to inspire young people to exercise and challenge their friends to #ShowMeYouCan.

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