From children’s hospitals to fallen police officers to ‘Buzzy’ pain distraction, Dmitry Leus’s foundation helps dozens of good causes. It’s been quite a journey for the entrepreneur and former European fencing champion…
Despite growing up in humble circumstances in 1970s Turkmenistan – then part of the Soviet Union – Dmitry Leus’s childhood was rich in adventure and imbued with a strong sense of community. So Leus, founder and CEO of London-based property developer Imperium Investments, understands better than most the importance of supporting and inspiring children and young people, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds – indeed, he founded the Leus Family Foundation to do just that.
Recently awarded official charitable status by the Charity Commission for England and Wales, the foundation’s work has become even more important during the Covid-19 pandemic as experts warn that a generation of children, particularly those from poorer households, could see their life chances negatively impacted by the privations they are currently suffering.
“This is not an easy time to be young,” says Leus, father to four sons. “Youngsters in the UK are learning at home with no in-person schooling, unemployment figures are rising and those job losses are impacting families. What a tough time to be leaving school or university and trying to make your way into a career. I empathise with young people at this time.”
One cause that is close to Leus’s heart is encouraging children to take part in sport. As a teenager, he was in the Turkmen National Fencing Team, becoming European champion at the age of 17.
“My business mindset was created in the gymnasiums and competition halls of my teenage years and the spirit that it forged is what helps me through all other aspects of my life,” he says. “This is how the character is formed.”
Leus is patron and honorary president of Brixton Fencing Club in southeast London, which is funding free fencing lessons for children from low-income families and organising tournaments.
“I want to get more kids involved – kids from all walks of life,” Leus says. “I believe that there is a future European, maybe even Olympic, champion in Brixton and I want to find them.”
The foundation, which Leus leads alongside directors Michael Wynne-Parker KCLJ and Manjit K Gill MBE, also has a longstanding relationship with St George’s Hospital Charity which supports the work of St George’s Hospital in Tooting, south London. In March 2019, Leus funded child-friendly pain distraction devices for every child’s bed in St George’s – each Buzzy, as the devices are called, comes in cheerful, cartoonish form, for example a bumble bee or an insect, and, when placed against the skin, vibrates to distract attention from blood being taken or injections administered.
At the height of the pandemic, in December 2020, a new look Children’s Garden was unveiled at St George’s, funded by the foundation and bringing some much-needed colour in the bleakest of midwinters. Play areas have been extended and improved with a new slide and better wheelchair access, while a new seating area is being installed.
“This garden will lift spirits and hopefully provide moments of joy and relaxation between treatments,” Leus says.
As well as strengthening existing relationships through the pandemic, the Leus Family Foundation has added to its philanthropic portfolio, forging new collaborations.
It responded to urgent appeals from charities for the Royal Free Hospital, Princess Royal University Hospital and St George’s Hospital to support doctors and nurses on the frontline through care packages, mental health provision and the creation of respite spaces for staff. Leus also donated to Runnymede Food Bank, which he visited in May 2020.
He is also an ambassador for HealthProm, a UK-based charity working to support vulnerable children and their families in eastern Europe, Central Asia and Afghanistan, and Patron of Binti International, a charity whose vision is to ensure every girl and woman in the world has menstrual dignity. And, as a policeman’s son, he feels a personal affiliation to Care of Police Survivors (COPS), a charity dedicated to supporting the families of police officers and staff who have lost their lives in the line of duty.
The Leus Family Foundation is now looking for further opportunities to help where and when it’s needed and, in 2021, plans to bolster its organisation with people who have extensive experience in the charity sector.
“Having received official charitable status affirms our commitment to our causes and those we work with in the future,” Leus says. “It is a joy that our foundation is able to help so many young people and it is so rewarding to see the direct benefit that our support has brought to their lives.”
For a full list of charity partners and further information on projects undertaken by The Leus Family Foundation, please visit here
Dmitry Leus, of the Leus Family Foundation, is working hard to combat the aftermath of the lockdown.
As the UK’s impressive vaccination rate continues and the roadmap towards the country opening up again is visible, if not entirely fixed, the aftermath of this locked down year is already on the mind of Dmitry Leus.
The London-based entrepreneur and former European fencing champion heads the Leus Family Foundation, which was recently awarded official charitable status by the Charity Commission for England and Wales, and the welfare of young people and their families is at the heart of the foundation’s mission.
The Leus Family Foundation was founded long before COVID-19 hit and the focus has always been on young people. But the intense impact of the pandemic on the wellbeing of young people has added urgency to the Foundation’s work.
Experts have made very clear the impact of the pandemic on the young. Dame Rachel de Souza, the children’s commissioner for England, recently told The Times that although children may not have fallen ill in large numbers from Coronavirus, they have “paid a huge price for the measures we’ve had to take to contain it”.
In the same Times report, Professor Russell Viner, president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health and a member of Sage, warned of the potentially catastrophic “collateral damage” to children.
“There’s a real question about how much of that is a wound that heals and how much of it will lead to long-term scarring,” he explained.
“We can talk about what we think the loss of education will do; we can say what we think the harms are around mental health. But it’s also the more subtle stuff. Have we shifted a whole generation towards anxiety and being more risk-averse? Have we shifted a whole generation away from physical contact, and all the things that come with human contact that bring benefits to us? Those are all the things we don’t know.”
The toll that the pandemic has taken on the younger generation is worrying to Dmitry Leus.
He said: “This has been a tough year for everyone. But I think our young people might be the ones suffering the longest lasting impact of this unusual year. They are still developing and their characters are still forming.
What we know for sure is that we have babies who were born into a lockdown situation, toddlers who have never seen anyone outside their home without a mask, teens who have had their wings clipped just as they should be socialising independently and university students listening to lectures on Zoom in their childhood bedrooms.
We do not yet know the full impact that this isolated year will have had on them. We will still be trying to understand that in years to come. What we do know is that this generation will need our support.”
The practical challenges that the young generation faces are a priority for him: “Imagine being 18-years-old right now. Or 21. Finishing school or university. It must feel a little bleak. How has this crazy year affected your university chances? Will you be able to get a job when you graduate, given the post-pandemic economic difficulties we are likely to endure for years to come?”
However, it seems his approach is one of solutions and finding answers: “Our Foundation’s response to this problem will be to continue to target where we see the most need. Our sporting programme, helping disadvantaged children in South London to experience fencing and all the confidence-building and discipline that sporting life can deliver is one example. This is the kind of area where we can give the young a real boost.
“We know that the pandemic conditions have been extra tough for families with children with chronic illness, so supporting causes like St George’s Hospital Charity will remain a priority.”
At the height of the pandemic, the Leus Family Foundation responded to urgent appeals from charities for the Royal Free Hospital, Princess Royal University Hospital and St George’s Hospital to support doctors and nurses on the frontline through care packages, mental health provision and the creation of respite spaces for staff. It also donated to Runnymede Food Bank.
Dmitry said: “Those collaborations will continue to be important for us, as sadly there will still be hungry families as we climb out of this pandemic situation and we want to help where we can, especially to improve the life opportunities for children.
“We know that we’re all in for some challenging times ahead. The most important thing we can do is to stay positive and always look for ways in which we can make a difference. For our Foundation, that means targeting young people and their families to ensure that we build for the future by creating better chances for the next generation”.
He concludes on a characteristically positive note: “We do know that resilience is one of the most important qualities that we can have in this modern world and I have no doubt that this young generation has been building their resilience throughout the pandemic.
“But they need a helping hand now and we owe it to them. Essentially, they sacrificed a lot to help protect the old and the vulnerable and now we need to repair any damage and help this young generation.”
Founder of the Leus Family Foundation, Dimitry Leus FRSA, is also honorary president of Brixton Fencing Club (Image: Leus Family Foundation)
By Jennifer Morgan
“We will continue to do all we can and look forward to many valuable partnerships in the future”
A foundation that devotes its efforts to the welfare of young people has recently received official charitable status from the Charity Commission for England and Wales.
This status is a long-held dream of the founder of the Leus Family Foundation, Dmitry Leus FRSA, and directors Michael Wynne-Parker KCLJ and Manjit K. Gill MBE. The trio feels the charitable status builds upon the foundation’s initiative and passion to help.
The organisation was formed to develop the potential of children and young people from all backgrounds and ultimately benefit the broader community by helping them fulfil their ambitions.
Founder Dmitry Leus says: “It is a joy that our Foundation is able to help so many young people and it is so rewarding to see the direct benefit that our support has brought to their lives’.
“We will continue to do all we can and look forward to many valuable partnerships in the future. Having received official charitable status affirms our commitment to our causes and those we work with in the future.”
The Leus Family Foundation already has a successful track record in its aims to be as caring, supportive, and far-reaching as possible.
The Foundation has supported charities and independent causes that innovate, nurture and support today’s children and young people, whilst also regularly responding to urgent appeals such as, and of more recently, various Covid-19 Relief funds.
The Foundation’s philanthropic work began with its important partnership with St George’s Hospital Charity.
Throughout the years Dmitry, a recognised Children’s Appeal Supporter of St George’s Hospital Charity, is proud to have maintained a relationship and continues to support initiatives such as funding the recent children’s garden renovations, sponsoring a fundraising dinner at the House of Commons and by providing “Buzzy’s” – a child-friendly pain distraction device which makes blood tests and injection procedures much quicker and less traumatic for younger patients.
Parallel to this and through his work with the Leus Family Foundation, Dmitry is an ambassador to HealthProm, patron and honorary president of Brixton Fencing Club and patron of Binti International.
Another charity he has a personal affiliation with is COPS (Care of Police Survivors). He is acutely aware how diligently the police force works and how hard it can be on their families when things go tragically wrong and so was honoured to sponsor COP’s Winter Ball in February 2020, an event enjoyed by all and a great opportunity to show his respect and support.
During the recent COVID-19 pandemic, Dmitry made supporting his local community, NHS and the vulnerable- young and old, a priority.
He responded to appeals from Imperium Health Charity, the Royal Free Charity, Runnymede Hospital and Food Bank and St George’s Hospital Charity.
The Leus Family Foundation this year is looking to grow by adding more charities under its umbrella and also key personnel with extensive experience and expertise in the charity arena, the Foundation is looking forward to a prosperous future helping as many as it can.
For a full list of charity partners and further information on projects undertaken by The Leus Family Foundation please visit here
Youngsters at a South London hospital are enjoying a revamped Children’s Garden thanks to long-term supporter and philanthropist Dmitry Leus
A new-look Children’s Garden has been unveiled at St George’s Hospital, Tooting, funded by a donation from long-term supporter, philanthropist and creator of the Leus Family Foundation, Dmitry Leus.
“I’m truly honoured to be a supporter of the regeneration,” said Leus, pictured centre above at the opening with (from left) Louise Bellamy (fundraiser, St. George’s Hospital Charity), Michael Wynne-Parker (Leus Foundation trustee), Amerjit Chohan (St George’s Hospital CEO) and Sue Affleck (head nurse of Children’s Services at St George’s).
A welcome outdoor space
The garden, situated in front of the Lanesborough Wing of the hospital, was first opened in 2012 – and hailed as an important new outdoor space for young patients and their families to enjoy, away from a clinical setting. 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.”
A significant difference to their wellbeing
Amerjit Chohan, chief executive at St George’s Hospital Charity, hailed the regeneration. “The long-standing support that Leus has given to St George’s Hospital Charity has made a significant difference to the wellbeing of the children in the care of the hospital,” he says. “We very much value our partnership with The Leus Family Foundation.”
An additional seating area will be installed in the spring, donated by The Playground Company, while volunteer Robin Newman and the team from his local company, Gardens and Leaves, generously gave their time to re-paint the fence and tidy up the garden beds.
“Gardens and outdoor spaces within the healthcare environment have long been shown to reduce stress and anxiety in children through physical and psychological stimulation,” says Sue Affleck, the head nurse of Children’s Services. “The Children’s Services teams are absolutely delighted with the regeneration work.”
A long-standing supporter
Leus is a long- standing supporter of St George’s. His work with the hospital charity began in 2017 when he met a 14- year- old girl called Megan who was being treated at the hospital for blood cancer. Megan requested that Leus focus his philanthropy towards the hospital. He eventually funded the manufacturing of “Buzzy’s”, a child- friendly pain distraction device, which makes blood tests and injection procedures less traumatic.
Leus later pledged his support to update the garden, as well as sponsoring a number of additional projects, including a fundraising dinner at House of Parliament for St George’s Hospital Charity and responding to St George’s Hospital’s COVID appeal. Leus is a recognised Children’s Appeal Supporter to St George’s Hospital.
Dmitry Leus is also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (RSA), a Patron of the Prince of Wales Foundation, Ambassador to the HealthProm charity, Honorary President and Patron of Brixton Fencing Club and due to ongoing links within the charity sector, Leus Family Foundation was established in 2018. Through the foundation Leus has been able to support charities and institutions that innovate in the fields of child development.
For more information on St George’s Hospital Charity click here
Dmitry Leus gained the fellowship honour in July 2020
London-based philanthropist Dmitry Leus has become a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, known more formally as the Royal Society of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA).
The CEO and founder of Imperium Investments and Imperium Developers gained his fellowship in July 2020.
Mr Leus’ educational background is in the fields of banking and economics and he has 25 years’ experience in finance and investment in the UK and overseas.
Since 2018, he has been an ambassador for the UK charity HealthProm, which works to support vulnerable children and their families.
Mr Leus is also the honorary president and patron of Brixton Fencing Club, a role he has held since 2017, as well as a recognised children’s appeal supporter of St George’s Hospital Charity, an organisation he has been supporting since 2018.
Established in 2018, the Leus Family Foundation also facilitates many of Mr Leus’ philanthropic efforts on behalf of children and young people.
The RSA is based on a belief in a world where everyone is able to participate in creating a better future.
The organisation, through its ideas, research and its membership of fellows, forms a global community of proactive problem solvers, sharing powerful ideas, carrying out cutting-edge research and building networks and opportunities for people to collaborate, influence and demonstrate practical solutions to realise change.
Mr Leus commented: “I am delighted to become a fellow at the RSA. I am inspired by what the organisation has achieved over the past 260 years and their focus on creative learning and development, public services and communities, and economy, enterprise and manufacturing.
“My fellowship will be a great opportunity to build connections with like-minded people who share my commitment to building a brighter future for our children.
“There is an innovative sector to be developed, where business and charity meet to support our young people, especially in these challenging times.”