Advocates for learning disability

Klasp runs two charity shops in Enfield Town
Klasp runs two charity shops in Enfield Town

Olivia Devereux-Evans talks to the founder of a local disability project

An Enfield learning disability charity is appealing for donations of furniture and electrical equipment as it prepares to reopen its shops.

Klasp, which operates two charity shops in Enfield Town, provides activities, support and information for families of people with a learning disability. But, like many charities, it has seen its finances hit by the pandemic as its shops have been closed for several months.

The name Klasp is an acronym for Kith and Kids Lifetime Advocacy Support Project and is part of the larger Tottenham-based charity, Kith and Kids (‘kith and kin’ being an old reference to family). Klasp founder Peter Godfrey joined Kith and Kids as a member when his daughter Chrissie was seven – she is now aged 36.

Explaining how Klasp was launched a decade ago, Peter said: “We came up with the concept of an advocacy project where we would recruit people to get to know us as families, get to know our children as individuals, how they communicate. They are all different.

“The people we did recruit got to know our children, got to know us, and also began to get to know the staff for the various care homes and supported living places that they live in. The idea was they would form these relationships and ensure a quality of life so that they are not locked in front of the telly with nothing happening.”

When Klasp started, each parent was visited by the people who are now their advocates. Every parent uses the service differently. In families where the children still live at home, the advocate is often more of a friend to the child, doing activities with them such as going for a coffee.

“The long-term view is when the parents go then there is still a friend that knows them,” said Peter. Parents also use advocates to help them speak to their children’s care providers and attend social service meetings.

Advocates make contact with children or their parents at least once every six weeks. Over the last year this has mostly been done via Zoom or phone calls. Some homes have been allowing parent and advocate visits, but not all.

Peter and his family were concerned how Chrissie would cope in the pandemic. They cannot see her in person but have regular video calls with her. He said: “As far as my daughter was concerned, with her autism, she was really concerned with routine.

“We got a lady to visit her just before lockdown and do some craft activities with her. She taught the staff how to support her doing these crafts activities.

“Our daughter is not missing us the way we expected. We now know that when we go she will be okay. She is in a new routine.”

Klasp raises money through its charity shops in Enfield Town, selling second-hand furniture and electrical items. They also have local fundraising groups and contributions from parents. The two shops will reopen as soon as they are allowed and will be in need of donations.

For more information:
Call 07973 345 363