Project information

Hawthorn Family Support Centre

Hawthorn provides essential support to families throughout Leeds with a child with learning disabilities aged under three. Hawthorn is a completely unique project which aids the development of these children whilst also providing crucial support and confidence to local families.


Charity information

Leeds Mencap

Leeds Mencap logo
  • Need


    International research has demonstrated that the period between 0-3 years of age is critical in shaping children's life chances, based on evidence of brain formation, communication and language development. We have also found our families are regularly scared, isolated and lonely - unable to cope, and sometimes mourning for the non-disabled child that never came.


    The families who attend Hawthorn once weekly regard the Centre as a lifeline and we pride ourselves in providing friendly and non judgemental support and appropriate advice. Parents and carers are encouraged to speak openly about any concerns they may have, and also make life-long friends with others in a similar situation. The children meanwhile, benefit enormously from developing key communication skills, playing with specially adapted toys and socialising with other youngsters.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    The children will develop at a faster rate and have better opportunities in future life.


    » Develop key ambitions with the family upon arrival and work alongside the family to encourage and support the child in becoming independent.

    Success will be... Hawthorn attendees are able to attend mainstream education upon leaving the Centre.

    Aim 2

    Children and their parents and carers will be better prepared to move into mainstream education.


    » Children will learn key skills that will enable them to attend mainstream schools, whilst families will be advised on the correct questions to as

    Success will be... Parents feel confident and equipped to ask teachers questions and know of their rights, whilst children are at their optimum development.

    Aim 3

    Families will be stronger and happier as a result of attending the Centre.


    » Families will learn techniques such as Makaton signing which will facilitate communication, allowing correspondence more easily amongst the family.

    Success will be... More families will be able to communicate with one another and families will tell us how happy they are!

    Aim 4

    Parents and carers will have a better understanding of other services available to them.


    » Parents and carers receive information and advice on both a 1-2-1 basis, and within the group, advising them on key areas such as education & benefits

    Success will be... Families will be better communicate with one another - letting each other know their wishes and needs, if they're in pain, or having the time of their life!

  • Impact


    It can be very hard for parents in this group to join a group of parents with children who don’t have a learning disability as other parents will often ignore the fact there is something different about their child. It can also be distressing to watch other children of the same age doing things that their child is unable to do.


    There is a risk that nearby facilities could be opened that offer similar services to young children with a learning disability. However, this risk is slim and unlikely to occur given our success with service provision in the past. We also have a strong waiting list and receive fantastic feedback year upon year.


    We can report to donors in whatever means they prefer; we always encourage supporters to see our work first-hand, and are happy to produce regular reports, be they informal and verbal, or more formal written reports.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £99,961

    Loading graph....
      Amount Heading Description
      £92,681 Staff costs Salaries, NI, training etc
      £7,280 Management & miscMiscellaneous Fees, food, gifts, crafts, transport and stationary etc

    Current Funding / Pledges

    Source Amount
    Jimbo Fund £50,000 Guaranteed
    Boshier Hinton £1,300 Guaranteed
    Simply Health £684 Guaranteed
    Garfield Weston £10,000 Guaranteed
    Sovereign Healthcare Foundation £1,500 Guaranteed
    Edith Murphy Foundation £10,000 Guaranteed
  • Background


    Hawthorn is based in the economically disadvantaged area of East End Park, approximately two miles out of Leeds city centre. However, the attendees come from as far afield as Boston Spa, Wetherby, Gipton, and of course, all of the Leeds region.


    Leeds based families with a child aged under three years of age with a learning disability. Leeds Mencap is very inclusive in its service provision and we believe Hawthorn has a positive impact on every family member and friends too - through increased communication, improved confidence and heightened understanding.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    Hawthorn has been running successfully for many years and throughout this time we have built the service up to cater for more and more families. Hawthorn has a constant waiting list and consistently receives fantastic feedback. Furthermore, we are a very cost effective organisation, with limited overhead costs and always offer a cost effective service.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Mary Cotton

    Hawthorn Manager Mary has years of experiences within early years education for children with a learning disability.

Hawthorn attendee

Hawthorn attendee


means a family can access Hawthorn for 1 year

Hawthorn has been invaluable, I feel very happy to have found it!

Hawthorn Parent