Leus Family Foundation: helping vulnerable children in Scotland and beyond

Leus Family Foundation: helping vulnerable children in Scotland and beyond

The Leus Family Foundation was established by the businessman and philanthropist Dmitry Leus. Born in Turkmenistan and now living with his family in the UK, Leus founded the charity to support children who are challenged by illness, poverty or special needs, in the UK and beyond.

“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

Investing in children is investing in our future: Dmitry Leus with youngsters at The Harrow Club
Investing in children is investing in our future: Dmitry Leus with youngsters at The Harrow Club

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.”

Chris Tidmarsh and Dmitry Leus with young fencers at Brixton Fencing Club

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 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.

Source

Leus Family Foundation: helping vulnerable children in the UK

Leus Family Foundation: helping vulnerable children in the UK

“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 hospital charities such as St George’s and the Royal Free, as well as Runnymede Foodbank, plus youth clubs such as Bright Lights and Harrow.

Children at risk through economic disadvantage

Supporting children from the UK and beyond: Dmitry Leus at Bright Lights youth club

An area of focus for the foundation has been connecting with children who are economically disadvantaged and at risk of being drawn into gang-related violent crime.

Leus explains that his Foundation supports organisations that offer vulnerable children an alternative path. “That is why we have been so pleased to support the Harrow Club”, he explains. The local areas The Harrow Club works with have some of the highest rates of school exclusion in the country and many of the young people the club engages with are at risk of being recruited by gangs and drawn into gang-related conflict, making the Club’s work crucial. The Club’s activities range from sports clubs to drama and dance. The Leus Family Foundation recently donated a minibus so that the Club can more easily transport the children and young people it works with.

Leus comments: “I am a huge admirer of the work that the Harrow Club does, both their long-standing programmes and also the way they step up to address the most pressing current needs. They took the initiative to start a weekend programme for assist newly arrived young refugees from Afghanistan who are living in West London hotels.

“Their efforts with young people who are in danger of being recruited by gangs is vital. They have a real impact, helping the most marginalised young people to maximise their life chances and to enhance their personal development, getting them on the road to employment and building their resilience and well-being. It is a great pleasure to provide the bus as a practical support for this great work.”

Chris Tidmarsh and Dmitry Leus with young fencers at Brixton Fencing Club

Leus’s work with economically disadvantaged young people is not limited to the Harrow area. He is also behind an initiative to get children from state schools in the Brixton area engaged with the sport of fencing. Together with Christopher Tidmarsh QC, Leus is determined to make the sport accessible for all and the duo began this mission in South London. They started by giving demonstrations in local state schools so that local children could see fencing for themselves, often for the very first time. Then they invited 7-11 year olds to attend Junior sessions for free with Brixton Fencing Club so that they could learn together with their peers who already fence.

Leus explains: “Once they join us, if they demonstrate the commitment, we will keep supporting them in the secondary school years. We want them to be absorbed organically into the club and know that they will gain access to coaching and equipment without charge. There is another strong motivation for us. We see the power of fencing to divert a child away from getting into trouble on the street. When a child is training with our coaches and feeling good about the skills they are building, then they are not so vulnerable to gang membership or experimenting with drugs. Fencing is an ideal sport to captivate young minds and build their confidence in a positive way. Yes, you need some aggression to win. But you have to be in control when you are fencing and also respect your opponent. We are delighted to draw youngsters into the rigour and training of fencing, especially when we know they are perhaps disadvantaged and need such direction and passion in their lives.”

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 please 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 concludes: “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.

Find out more about the foundation

Source

Leus Family Foundation: helping vulnerable children in Scotland and beyond

Bright Lights Youth Club receives further support from the Leus Family Foundation

By Tom Bramwell

The Runnymede club welcomes children aged five to 13 with a range of learning and physical disabilities

Bright Lights Youth Club in Runnymede has received further support from the Leus Family Foundation, with the latest grant including toys and equipment for the club, as well as funding for two special outings for the children who attend the club.

The club, established in 1996, is for children aged five to 13 years with special needs in Runnymede and surrounding areas. The children have 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 can come to the club every Thursday evening for two hours during term time.

The grant from the Leus Family Foundation means that the children can now enjoy additional toys and equipment, including sensory light equipment, special chairs, mats, computers and books.

Children aged five to 13 with a range of learning and physical disabilities attend the club

The grant will also fund a private trip in January 2022 to a trampoline park where the children will have exclusive use of the venue. In the Spring of 2022, club attendees will also benefit from a trip to Drayton Manor Theme Park for the children and staff, with the Leus Family Foundation covering entry and transport costs.

Lucy O’Neill, the chair of Bright Lights, spoke of the importance of the support from the Leus Family Foundation. She said: “We are delighted to receive this continued support from the Leus Family Foundation.

“The additional toys and equipment will add extra fun and stimulation to the time that our members spend with us each week.

“The privatisation of the trampoline park will open up this fun experience in a safe way for our members and we know Drayton Manor will also be an exciting highlight of the year for them.”

Children aged five to 13 with a range of learning and physical disabilities attend the club

Dmitry Leus, the founder of the Leus Family Foundation, said: “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 the two outings, knowing how much pleasure the children will get from these fun experiences.”

Dmitry added: “We will be honoured to assist Bright Lights further in the future. Our Foundation admires the energy and commitment of the small team and the significant impact they make to young people who really need this service.”

Find out more about Leus Family Foundation and the other projects.

Source

Leus Family Foundation donates minibus to The Harrow Club

Leus Family Foundation donates minibus to The Harrow Club

The Harrow Club, which has six youth clubs across west London serving over 500 children and young people, has received a much-needed bus donated by the Leus Family Foundation.

The Harrow Club has been working with the local community since 1883. Their aim is to  address needs amongst young people related to disadvantage and poverty. The Club’s activities range from sports clubs to drama and dance.

Their network of clubs includes Harrow, Chelsea, Old Oak, Sands End, White City and Lancaster Road and welcomes children and young people between the ages of 8 and 21 years old, of whom 80 percent are eligible for free school meals, 90 percent are from ethnic minority backgrounds and 20 percent have been diagnosed with learning difficulties or disability issues.

Dmitry Leus and Michael Defoe with club members in the new minibus.

The local areas The Harrow Club works with have some of the highest rates of school exclusion in the country and many of the young people the club engages with are at risk of being recruited by gangs and drawn into gang-related conflict, making the Club’s work crucial.

The bus donated by the Leus Family Foundation will facilitate the transfer of young people between their activities and the different sites and will also open up the possibility of easier outings for the groups.

Michael Defoe, CEO of The Harrow Club, welcomed the donation: “We are delighted to receive this contribution. It will make a great difference to us to be able to transport the young people we work with using our own bus. We are very proud of the quality of programmes we offer to help young people learn and engage and this practical assistance is greatly appreciated. A big thank you to the Leus Family Foundation.”

Dmitry Leus with attendees of the Harrow Club.

Dmitry Leus, the founder of the Leus Family Foundation said:“I am a huge admirer of the work that the Harrow Club does, both their long-standing programmes and also the way they step up to address the most pressing current needs. They took the initiative to start a weekend programme for assist newly arrived young refugees from Afghanistan who are living in West London hotels. Their efforts with young people who are in danger of being recruited by gangs is vital. They have a real impact, helping the most marginalised young people to maximise their life chances and to enhance their personal development, getting them on the road to employment and building their resilience and well-being. It is a great pleasure to provide the bus as a practical support for this great work.”

To learn more about the work of The Harrow Club and to make adonation, please visit their Christmas appeal page.

Source


Cost should not be a barrier to children learning potentially life-changing fencing

Cost should not be a barrier to children learning potentially life-changing fencing

The Leus Family Foundation is backing a scheme to offer young people in Brixton access to the sport

Ginette Davies

  • 14:44, 9 NOV 2021

Brixton Recreation Centre might not be the first place you would look to find children fencing. The sport has a reputation in the UK, perhaps unfairly, as being elitist and more likely to be found in fee-paying schools.

Fencing’s “posh” image is not entirely unfounded as it can be an expensive pursuit, from coaching costs to equipment.

Yet many believe it is the ideal sport for building life skills such as strategic thinking and discipline in children and young people.

Christopher Tidmarsh QC and Dmitry Leus are determined to make the sport accessible for all and they began this mission in Brixton.

Christopher Tidmarsh QC is the committee chair of the Brixton Fencing Club, as well as a barrister with a wide-ranging Chancery practice focused on trusts and estates, tax and pension schemes.

Dmitry Leus is the Brixton Fencing Club’s honorary president and patron, as well as the CEO and founder of Imperium Investments and the Founder of the Leus Family Foundation, a charitable foundation that supports the development of children and young people, especially those facing the challenges of poverty, illness or special needs.

Christopher Tidmarsh QC and Dmitry Leus are determined to make the sport accessible

Together, the two men are the driving force behind a scheme to bring free fencing lessons to children from local state schools in the Brixton area, funded by the Leus Family Foundation.

As Tidmarsh explains, the initiative goes far beyond the free lessons: “We started by giving demonstrations in local state schools so that local children could see fencing for themselves, often for the very first time.

“To see the sport live can definitely capture the imagination and inspire a young person to want to learn the skills for themselves. Then we invited 7-11 year olds to attend our Junior sessions for free, so that they could learn together with their peers who already fence.”

The scheme is designed so that children can begin free fencing lessons at primary school age, but the aim is to keep them attending long after.

Leus said: “It’s crucial that children get exposed to training young, but it’s also essential that they keep training in those all-important teenage years.

“Once they join us, if they demonstrate the commitment, we will keep supporting them in the secondary school years. We want them to be absorbed organically into the club and know that they will gain access to coaching and equipment without charge.”

“There is another strong motivation for us,” said Leus. “We see the power of fencing to divert a child away from getting into trouble on the street.

“When a child is training with our coaches and feeling good about the skills they are building, then they are not so vulnerable to gang membership or experimenting with drugs.

“Fencing is an ideal sport to captivate young minds and build their confidence in a positive way. Yes, you need some aggression to win.

“But you have to be in control when you are fencing and also respect your opponent. We are delighted to draw youngsters into the rigour and training of fencing, especially when we know they are perhaps disadvantaged and need such direction and passion in their lives.”

Fencing is seen as the ideal sport for building life skills such as strategic thinking and discipline 

Leus is himself a former European fencing champion. Can he spot the same talent amongst the young fencers in Brixton? Could Brixton produce a world champion?

He said: “Why not! We absolutely see natural talent amongst the children. That is why Chris and I also talk so much about the teenage years.

“The UK compares reasonable well in terms of nurturing talent at a very young age. But where France and Switzerland excel is in how they develop that talent post 11 years old.

“The UK needs to do more of that, to invest in the young fencers as they get a little older, to support them on to championship level.

“That is where costs kick in, whether it’s reaching the level where you really need to buy your own equipment or have access to the very best coaches. That is an area where my Foundation wants to help further.”

Christopher Tidmarsh QC is the committee chair of the Brixton Fencing Club

Tidmarsh added: “And it’s not only about the future champions. Fencing offers so much to children. From fitness, agility and hand-eye coordination to strength and discipline.

“The ability to be aggressive and yet control your temper. There are values to be learned in the saluting and shaking of hands – the ceremony that is in some ways similar to martial arts.

“It also opens up the world a bit, allowing children to meet other people at training and competitions – from all walks of life, people they might not otherwise get to meet.

“The truth is that the fencing community – far from being elitist – is open and friendly and there is a lot for children to gain socially too. We want to bring that to local children, even the ones who are not necessarily going to take it to the highest level.”

Leus said: “We have also been pleased to see girls taking up lessons. It’s very important to us that both boys and girls get a chance to gain both the physical and life skills that fencing offers. I can see a huge boost for a child stretching themselves in that controlled combat mode and we really want to see girls gaining from that too.”

Leus agrees that the fencing community is warm and welcoming, something he appreciated when he settled in to the UK with his wife and four children.

“Fencing is life-changing. One has to learn to be calm and controlled,” he said. “Mentally it’s like playing chess. You always have to think about your next steps and your opponent’s next steps. These are skills for life, they transfer beyond sport. That is why we are so eager to bring the fencing to disadvantaged kids, so they can get a boost in their wider lives.”

Further information about free fencing lessons for children attending state schools in the Brixton area can be found at Imperium Academy – Brixton Fencing Club.