Brightlights has been on the receiving end of a considerable grant from the foundation to help further its work for local youngsters.
Runnymede Special Needs Youth Club, also known as Brightlights, has recently received a grant from the Leus Family Foundation to support their work with young people with special needs in the Runnymede area.
The club is for children aged 5-13 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.
Established in 1996, children with varying learning and physical disabilities can come to the club every Thursday evening for two hours during term time.
The youth club is known for providing a vibrant programme that includes the use of the soft play area, crafts and external outings, trips to places like the Isle of Wight, Disneyland Paris, Spain, Lapland UK, Paultons Park, Beale Park, and Legoland.
The club also holds a Christmas party every year where the children receive a visit and presents from Father Christmas. Easter eggs are also received.
Some of these activities have not been possible during the pandemic, but Brightlights has strived to support families during this time.
The charity arranged two trips to Heron Lake which allowed the children to take part in water sports and activities which they greatly enjoyed. These trips also gave the members and families the opportunity to meet up and see each other, which was most needed during this difficult time.
Lucy O’Neill, the chair of Brightlights, welcomed the contribution from the Leus Family Foundation, saying: “We are here to provide fun and recreation for young people with special needs, which can also play a helpful respite role for their parents and carers.
We are a safe environment for children who might have difficulty accessing other facilities within the local borough.
Our base at Egham Orbit Leisure Centre enables the use of the soft play area, arts and crafts activities, books and toys from our toy library. We occasionally hold family and friends evenings when parents and carers can meet and discuss family matters.
The contribution from the Leus Family Foundation will help us to keep bringing this fun and support to children and their families and we’re very grateful.”
Dmitry Leus, the founder of the Leus Family Foundation, adds: “We are delighted to support Brightlights. Our foundation’s focus this year is very much on helping children and families bounce back from what we know has been a tough and isolating year for many.
Young people with special needs and their families have felt the lockdown restrictions even more than most, so it is a priority for us to bring fun, learning, connection and community support to them via Brightlights’ excellent programme.”
To find out more about Leus Family Foundation and the other projects and initiatives it has supported, visit the website.
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
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
Dmitry Leus with former St George’s patient Miles Herne and his father Mark
On Thursday 14th November 2019,St George’s Hospital Charityand Imperium Investments hosted a Children’s Appeal fundraising dinner at the House of Commons, London. The charity’s goal is to raise £1.3m towards refurbishing the children’s wards, creating bright and modern spaces that reflect the exceptional care offered by St George’s staff.
The children’s departments at St George’s Hospital care for nearly 40,000 children every year from across south west London, Surrey, Sussex and beyond. Each child is looked after by an incredible team of staff, from the smallest babies to teenagers and young adults.
There were around 60 guests in attendance on the evening, including Imperium’s business contacts, actor Chizzy Akudolu from Holby City and Strictly Come Dancing, St George’s Hospital Charity trustees and donors, plus doctors, nurses and staff from St George’s Hospital.
Gemma Phillips, General Manager of Children’s Medicine at St George’s Hospital said:
“We have over 750 dedicated and passionate members of staff who go above and beyond every day with the mission of delivering outstanding care every time. One of the reasons why we’re here today is that we need to do more to promote the incredible, life-saving and quality of life enhancing work we do and to garner support to enable us to complete a much needed refurbishment of our children’s wards and facilities, which unfortunately are rather outdated, and no longer fit for purpose for the delivery of modern healthcare.
Our aim is to ensure that we are able to offer an environment that matches the amazing care, so that we have the look and feel of a modern Children’s hospital, recognising that the environment is critical to our young patient’s experience of being in hospital when they are at their most vulnerable. A modern environment would go a long way towards keeping our young patient’s spirits up, as the dark, dull wards do have an impact on the morale of our patients and their families, particularly those who need to be with us for long time or have a disabilities and complex needs.”
Imperium Investments generously hosted the evening and is a longstanding supporter of St George’s Hospital Charity’s Children’s Appeal. Dmitry Leus, CEO and founder of Imperium Investments, and a philanthropist and patron of St George’s Hospital explained at the event: “It’s a great privilege for me to have opportunity to be part of a team with these extraordinary people helping children who face terrible diseases but remain so brave and inspiring.”
Miles Herne, a former young patient at St George’s, shared his hospital experience with guests. In 2018, Miles was diagnosed with a brain tumour that had grown to the size of a satsuma. After his operation, he was supposed to be out of hospital after a week but finally awoke after four weeks. Miles was treated on Paediatric Intensive Care (PICU), the step down unit and Nicholls ward, which cares for children aged 0-18 years. Miles explained that the beds and hoists were too small for his 6-foot frame, the lighting too harsh and the wards were far too hot in the summer. Miles chose to fundraise to improve the hospital environment and equipment for future patients. So far, Miles and his family have risen over £74,000, with fundraising activities including sponsored runs, cycles and head-shaves.
Guests at the event also learned more about Megan, a brave young former patient of St George’s Hospital, with a short film telling her story At the age of 14 Megan was diagnosed with leukaemia and was treated at St George’s, spending over a month in hospital. Megan introduced Dmitry Leus and Imperium to St George’s and the work of the charity, which inspired him to fund new equipment and the regeneration of a children’s garden.
The personalstories of Meganand Miles helped to bring to life the important work of St George’s children’s services and the need to refurbish the children’s wards. Over £7,500 was pledged in donations on the night by guests, which will go towards making this a reality.
Founder and chief executive of Imperium Investments, Dmitry Leus, is sponsoring the fundraising event which aims to raise significant funds for COPS, a national charity which supports the surviving families of police officers and staff who have died on duty.
Dmitry, whose family run fund is well known for itsphilanthropic work, said: “I am honoured to be supporting COPS Winter Ball 2020.
My father was a policeman for 30 years, so I believe, I personally understand how hard they work and how hard it can be on their families sometimes.
The work COPS do is very impressive, the support they give and the community they have built for survivors is really special.
I am proud to be involved in such a great charity and know that all of the money raised will be going to a good cause to help continue their support.”
On 1 February 2020, COPS is hosting a spectacular black-tie ball at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire.
The event will include a drinks reception, a three-course dinner, entertainment from the Fabulators, and a chance to win some once-in-a-lifetime lots in an exclusive auction.
The charity’s Patron, Penny Lancaster, a model, photographer, TV personality and wife of Rod Stewart, will also be attending.
COPS chief executive, Tim Buckley, said: “We have been completely overwhelmed by the generosity shown by Dmitry and his team at Imperium Investments.
By supporting COPS and sponsoring our Winter Ball, the business is helping us to support the surviving families of police officers who have sadly died in their line of duty.
It’s going to be a wonderful evening – made even more so by Dmitry’s generosity.”