“The guiding principle of the Leus Family Foundation is that as a society we should be investing in every child. Every child deserves opportunity and to feel valued. If we invest in children, we are investing in our future. We know that some children - whether they are born into poverty, have special needs or suffer an illness – need an extra boost in order to fulfil their potential. That is our mission at the Foundation – to make a positive impact on their lives and to give them a sense of possibility,” explains Leus.
The Leus Foundation supports multiple organisations, ranging from The Youth Agency in Edinburgh, to hospital charities such as St George’s and the Royal Free, as well as Runnymede Foodbank.
Children at risk through economic disadvantage
An area of focus for the foundation has been supporting children who are economically disadvantaged, such as those living in poverty.
Leus explains that his Foundation supports organisations that offer vulnerable children an alternative path. “That is why we have been so pleased to support youth organisations across the country”, he explains. Recent donations have included supporting The Youth Agency in the Wester Hailes area of Edinburgh, as well as The Harrow Club in West London and a fencing programme for school-aged children in Brixton.
Leus comments: “Our support of those working with young people living in the poorest areas, who have perhaps been excluded from school or are vulnerable to becoming involved with gangs or drugs is a major priority for us. We really value working with organisations that make a direct impact, helping the most marginalised young people to maximise their life chances. If we work together, we can enhance their chances of getting onto the road to employment, with greater resilience and well-being.”
He added: “We have also seen that in recent times, it is the most vulnerable who are the most severely impacted by the pandemic. Whether through increased isolation, worsening poverty or decreased services, there is an even greater danger at present of young people falling through the net. For this reason, in 2022 supporting the organisations that directly help this group will be a continued focus for us.”
Helping those with additional needs
Children and young people with learning difficulties and special needs are also central to the work of the Leus Family Foundation. The Foundation supports Bright Lights, a Runnymede youth club for children with disabilities ranging from autism, Asperger's, Downs, and moderate-to-severe learning difficulties, with some of them requiring one-to-one care.
Children with varying learning and physical disabilities attend the Bright Lights club every Thursday evening for two hours during term time.
Dmitry explains: “"We are so pleased to boost the club's range of toys and equipment so that children attending get the maximum enjoyment out of their time at the club. It is especially meaningful for us to be able to provide two future outings for the children, knowing how much pleasure the children will get from these fun experiences at a privatised trampoline park and Drayton Manor theme park.”
Dmitry added: "Bright Lights is exactly the kind of organisation we like to work with. They are a small team and they have the energy and commitment needed to make a significant impact to young people who really need this service."
Support for poorly children
Children suffering serious or long term illness are also a priority for the Leus Family Foundation. The Foundation has a been a long term supporter of St George’s Hospital Charity, with donations targeted at aiding children and their families through the difficulties of illness. The Foundation supported the renovation of a children’s garden at the hospital. Updates to the site include the extension and improvement of the play areas, including a new slide and better wheelchair access.
“My long relationship with St George’s has given me a great admiration for the children who are patients here, their families and the amazing staff," says Leus. "This garden will lift spirits and hopefully provide moments of joy and relaxation between treatments. We were also pleased to supply ‘Buzzy’ pain relief devices to distract children and reduce any pain when they are having blood tests or injections, which can happen very often during long term illness.”
Leus added: “For our Foundation, the common theme throughout all of our work is that each child deserves the best start we can give them. A child does not get to choose their circumstances and when they suffer illness or poverty or are born with a disability, we all have a responsibility to improve their situation, to boost their opportunities.
To find out more about the foundation, click here.
To support the Edinburgh-based Youth Agency, please visit their donations page: Donate Now – The Youth Agency.