Fabulous Fundraisers

Fabulous Fundraisers

This month has seen some amazing fundraising challenges taking place and we would just like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has taken on these fantastic personal challenges to support, and raise funds for, Sunshine & Smiles!

On Friday 6th April Jack Lonsdale spent the day football ground hopping, taking in every football ground in Yorkshire! So far he has raised a phenomenal £526 … four times as much as his original fundraising target!

You can read more here: https://www.morleyobserver.co.uk/news/local-lad-raises-funds-for-charity-1-9095672

On Wednesday 11th April our daring dance teacher, Laura Jakes, will take to the skies for a fundraising parachute jump .. you can read more & sponsor her here: https://localgiving.org/fundraising/jumpforsunshineandsmiles/

On Sunday 15th April one of our brilliant Great North Runners from 2017, Beth Liddle, takes on a full marathon distance in Brighton, please support her by visiting her fundraising page here: https://localgiving.org/fundraising/bethbrighton26/

And finally on 22nd April – the ultimate marathon! Chris Chapman will start his fundraising journey for us by running The Virginmoney London Marathon and then later in the year he will be taking on an Ironman 70.3 Triathlon challenge .. wow! Again, you can read more & show your support by visiting Chris’ fundraising page here: https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-display/showROFundraiserPage?userUrl=ChrisChapman39&pageUrl=2

Sunshine & Smiles rely very much on fundraising & donations to be able to run our groups & activities as well as developing new areas of our work … we are extremely grateful to everyone who fund raises for us and all those who generously donate .. we couldn’t continue our work without you!


Leeds United Foundation – Football Camps

Leeds United Foundation – Football Camps

We are delighted to announce the Leeds United Foundation have offered us some football holiday camps to be held at the Grammar School at Leeds.

We have secured Wednesday 30 May and the following are in the summer holidays, all on Thursdays: 2 August, 9 August, 16 August, 23 August and 30 August.

The sessions will run from 10am-12.30. The one we ran in February half term was a great success and as the weather was cold we accessed the indoor provision the whole morning.

The session was perfectly pitched for our budding footballers and they all had a wonderful morning.

If you would like to put your name down please contact Joanna Rowlands: joannarowlands@hotmail.co.uk

We understand most people will have some holidays booked in August and it is not important to attend every session at all.

If you have never accessed the football sessions please do come along to these holiday camps and try them out.

Parents & carers will need to stay at the session to support their children.

Age range – 4 years to 11 years. 

The Future of Cafe 21

The Future of Cafe 21

Last week saw a phenomenally busy & wonderful pilot project in the form of Cafe 21.

We took over the Carousel event space in Far Headingley from 16th to 25th March – running a cafe everyday with evening events such as a film screening, pamper, pottery & curry nights!

A team of 6 young adults with Down syndrome worked at the cafe throughout the week supported by Sunshine & Smiles staff & volunteers.

Everyone worked incredibly hard, the team work was amazing … and the cafe was so busy we had to turn customers away! We also had visits from local TV & newspapers who were keen to know more about the project.

It was an incredible week which has definitely given us a taste for where Cafe 21 could lead in the future … but what now?!

Initially we are going to work towards Team Cafe 21 being responsible for the catering & refreshments at our fundraising events such as the Spring Fair & The Book Giveaway … but we have also had time to reflect on how we ensure that the project continues to include as many young people as possible and to acknowledge that everyone’s journey is different and sometimes more complex.

We have a number of young adults who we would like to involve in the next stages of the project … and we also have a whole new generation of Team Cafe 21 growing up … all of whom have different support needs, health issues and additional diagnoses.

This was very much a pilot project and we are committed to ensuring we move forwards with every child & young person in mind for the future of Cafe 21.

Meet Lyall

Lyall is 8yrs old and loved coming to Cafe 21.

Lyall had a very complex start in life. He has had 2 open heart surgeries, major stomach surgery, relied on a ventilator to breathe from 7months until almost 3yrs and had a tracheostomy until he was nearly 5. He spent most of his first 18months in hospital and was completely fed via gastrostomy until he was 3 and still doesn’t drink.

Despite the medical challenges he has faced Lyall is a confident, sociable and hilarious little boy who lives life to the full.

When Lyall did start eating he soon discovered cake and would sign it regularly. After his airway was reconstructed and his trachy removed it was easier for him to speak and “Cake” in a broad Yorkshire accent was one of his first words!

Lyall loves helping out at home and likes to set and clear the table. His favourite meal is a roast dinner and he likes to help cut up the vegetables. He knows all the ingredients needed to make a cake and enjoys baking at home and school although his love of raw cake mix does sometimes mean there’s not much mixture left to actually put in a tin and bake!

If Lyall doesn’t achieve his first ambition of being a contestant on Strictly or his 2nd ambition of being a host on “Pointless” or “Celebrity Mastermind” then he’d absolutely love to work somewhere like Cafe 21.

When he brought his friends from school for a visit they all thought it would be really cool if he worked somewhere like this and said they’d text him to say they were coming to visit! He’s a real host and has liked chatting to customers this week and clearing away plates, most of the time remembering to wait until the customer had finished!

Lyall has so much to offer and with the right support is capable of achieving so much. It would be so fantastic if Cafe 21 could become a permanent part of Sunshine and Smiles and young people like Lyall could gain the training and experience they need to go on and gain employment.

Cafe 21 Opens

Cafe 21 Opens

Leeds charity opens pop-up café to help young people with Down syndrome gain work experience

Leeds-based charity, Sunshine & Smiles has launched a pop-up café to help young adults with Down syndrome get vital work experience.

The pilot project, Café 21, has opened at the Carousel event space in Headingly to coincide with World Down Syndrome Day on 21st March. The café will provide work experience to 16 to 22-year olds with Down syndrome and will be open from the 18th to the 25th March. The project has been supported by the Wesleyan Foundation, which chose Sunshine & Smiles as its national community project of the year, and the Seedbed Trust.

Sunshine & Smiles – which is a parent-led charity – is hoping to attract additional funding to open the café on a permanent basis. It aims to offer young people the chance to gain formal qualifications and obtain work experience, equipping them with new skills, confidence and independence. The charity has already provided the café’s temporary employees with food hygiene and barista training and each will receive one-to-one support from the charity’s workers & volunteers.

Ailith Harley-Roberts, service manager at Sunshine & Smiles, said: “National statistics show that only 17 per cent of all adults with a learning disability are in paid employment. Clearly, it can be difficult for the young people we support to get the work experience and training they need to secure jobs.

“Cafe 21 is a first for Leeds’ Down syndrome community and aims to meet the needs of young people with Down syndrome and create a long-term model where participants are treated like any other trainees and can access training and paid work.

“We’ve already had a fantastic response to the café from the local community and our trainees are getting a lot out of the experience. We’d love the opportunity to create something more permanent and we’re hoping to establish partnerships with local employers & The Down’s Syndrome Association’s WorkFit scheme to enable our young people to access job opportunities.”

Sunshine & Smiles is a parent-led charity that helps children and young people across Leeds by providing speech and language therapy, regular groups and activities, individual support and advocacy for families. The charity aims to raise awareness and challenge preconceptions about Down syndrome in the wider community.

Cafe 21 – Evening Fundraising Events

Cafe 21 – Evening Fundraising Events

We are very excited to let you know about some awareness & fundraising events that we are holding during the evenings as part of our Cafe 21 project week from 17th to 25th March.

All of the events need to be booked in advance please via Eventbrite and are listed below, places are limited and are booking fast.

We hope you will be able to join us!


Saturday 17th March – 7.30pm doors, film at 8pm – My Feral Heart film screening at Stainbeck Hall



Tuesday 20th March – Neal’s Yard Pamper Evening at Cafe 21, 80 Otley Road



Thursday 22nd March – The Potting Studio – Clay Workshop at Cafe 21, 80 Otley Road



Friday 23rd March – Curry Night – 6pm to 7.30pm sitting at Cafe 21, 80 Otley Road



Friday 23rd March – Curry Night – 7.45pm to 9.00pm sitting at Cafe 21, 80 Otley Road



Cafe 21 – Food Safety & Barista Training

Cafe 21 – Food Safety & Barista Training

Café 21 is Sunshine & Smiles’ start-up project that aims to create important training and employment opportunities for young adults who have Down syndrome.

The project will also provide an additional revenue stream and help the charity become more self-sufficient at a time when securing funding through grants is becoming increasingly difficult.

Currently, there is a gap in opportunities for young adults with a learning disability and many are not able to access full time education or training and very few are able to secure meaningful, paid employment.

Recent national statistics show that only 17% of all adults with a learning disability are in paid employment compared to 74% of the general population.

Through the Cafe 21 pilot project 6 young adults with Down syndrome have completed a Level 2 course in food safety, a further 4 young people are currently undertaking barista training with local cafe & coffee roasters, Cielo.

Our young adults will obtain vital skills and work experience along with confidence and independence. The young trainees will be supervised at all times by the charity’s service delivery team.


Food Safety training at Cafe Leep


Take on a Fundraising Challenge for Sunshine & Smiles

Take on a Fundraising Challenge for Sunshine & Smiles

Could you take on a personal challenge to raise funds for Sunshine & Smiles?


We still have places left for two of the most iconic fundraising challenges in the UK!

The Yorkshire 3 Peaks on Saturday 2nd June – 24 miles, 3 Peaks in under 12 hours


The Great North Run on Sunday 9th September – 13.1 miles from Newcastle to South Shields


If you would like to walk or run with a small but fabulous team please get in touch with us by emailing hello@sunshineandsmiles.org.uk and we will send you all the details!

We look forward to hearing from you!


Cafe 21 – World Down Syndrome Day 2018 – What I Bring to My Community

Cafe 21 – World Down Syndrome Day 2018 – What I Bring to My Community

We are very excited that from 18th March to 25th March Sunshine & Smiles will be running it’s very own pop up cafe .. run by, and for, young adults who happen to have Down syndrome.

We are taking over Carousel Event Space at 80 Otley Road, Far Headingley, LS6 4BA.

We will be open every day serving home made cakes and food, hot and cold drinks with gifts from The Potting Studio and Neal’s Yard available to buy.

We also have a number of fundraising evening events – a Neal’s Yard pamper evening with Adela Parzanese on Tuesday 20th, a clay workshop with Lorna Gilbert from The Potting Studio on Thursday 22nd and a curry night with delicious dishes from Sarbjit Kaur on Friday 23rd.

You can follow us, read more and book tickets for events via our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/cafe21sunshineandsmiles/

Or follow us on:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/cafe21_sunsmile

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/cafe21_sunsmile/

We’d love to see you for a cuppa .. so please pop in!!

My Feral Heart – Film Screening for World Down Syndrome Day 2018

My Feral Heart – Film Screening for World Down Syndrome Day 2018

To celebrate World Down Syndrome Day 2018, Sunshine & Smiles – Leeds Down Syndrome Network, in conjunction with Oakwood Cinema, are delighted to be showing a screening of My Feral Heart.

‘A sudden bereavement throws Luke, a fiercely independent young man with Down’s syndrome, into a daunting new environment where he finds unexpected support from his feisty, streetwise carer and a local heir dealing with his own demons. As friendships bloom and long-buried secrets are revealed, Luke verges dangerously close to disaster. My Feral Heart is a beautifully realised, understated character study bolstered by strong performances, distinctive cinematography and a deeply evocative score.’
Synopsis by Emma Boa, Edinburgh International Film Festival 2016

Saturday 17th March – Doors open at 7.30pm, screening starts at 8pm.

Please book you tickets here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/my-feral-heart-film-screening-tickets-43340282953

Refreshments will be available and served by team Cafe 21.

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