We raised £400 bag packing

We raised £400 bag packing

M and S Bag PackWe are very pleased to be Moortown Marks & Spencer’s Charity of the Year for 2018 – 2019 and following on from their support with the book giveaway in July we thought we’d lend a hand and pack some of their customers shopping!

It was an incredibly successful day with the help of volunteers across Leeds getting involved, and not only did we raise awareness for Sunshine & Smiles, but we also collected £400 of donations!

Thank you so much to all the volunteers who spent their Saturday afternoon bagging up shopping, you were all brilliant!

Want to help next time? Follow us on Twitter to find out when the next charity day is!

Carers Leeds & Café 21

Cafe 21
Louise, Ailith, Lorna

Café 21 were delighted to be invited to provide the refreshments for Carers Leeds Family Fun Day on 1st August at Leeds Mencap.

A fabulous afternoon of music, crafts, games, biscuit decorating and so much more!

We loved being a part of it and it looked like all of the families attending had a great time too!

Thank you Carers Leeds!

National Citizen Service Partnership

Yard Sale - Stainbeck Community Hall
Yard Sale – Stainbeck Community Hall

This Summer has seen our 3rd partnership with a team taking part in the National Citizen Service.

The project aims to encourage young people aged 15 – 17 get involved in volunteering, build their own skills & confidence and work with a local community organisation to raise awareness and take on a day of social action.

This year Team Emeke visited us at our swimming session to find out about what Sunshine & Smiles does, learn more about our families and think of ways that they could help us.

We then had a planning meeting where we decided on the social action day to help us clear out our loft at Stainbeck Community Hall, tidy up the garden and hold a yard sale and some activities in the garden.

We had a really good clear out & tidy up and the team raised £100 from the Yard Sale which is fantastic!

Their last day was raising awareness & campaigning in the city centre which they did by handing out Sunshine & Smiles stickers, wearing our distinctive t-shirts and talk to people about the work we do!

Thank you Team Emeke and the National Citizen Service!

Early Development Groups start in September and there’s still time to sign up!

Early Development Group
Early Development Groups

We are very pleased to be able to start offering Early Development groups starting from September 2018.

Initially we will have two groups running on a Friday morning, on a fortnightly basis, there will be one group for children aged 12 – 18 months and one group for children aged 18 – 24 months.

We will be using tools, resources & techniques from See & Learn, the Early Years Developmental Journal, The Portage Model and linking with our Speech & Language therapists to ensure consistency & continuity.

The groups will be 1 hour of structured support & learning followed by 30 minutes of social time with snacks.

Our aim will be to develop more groups to include all pre-school age children in the longer term.

Please let us know if you would like a place for your child in either of these groups by emailing ailith@sunshineandsmiles.org.uk or ringing 07902 054355.

A Beautiful Partnership with Phoenix Health & Wellbeing

A Beautiful Partnership with Phoenix Health & Wellbeing

Just a little reminder to all our Sunshine & Smiles families about our wonderful partnership with Phoenix Health & Wellbeing … we all know how busy life can be and that sometimes extra hurdles can take their toll which is why we teamed up with Phoenix.

Phoenix offer a range of complementary therapies, massage and counselling – 3 years ago we raised funds specifically to create this partnership so that anyone who is part of Sunshine & Smiles can access any of these services free of charge, whenever they need them.

To get the code to quote for free treatments please see the group Facebook page or email ailith@sunshineandsmiles.org.uk … all treatments are provided anonymously and Sunshine & Smiles just get an invoice for treatments with the group code but with no personal details at all. Or if you prefer we can con

Please see below for more details of some of the services available or visit their website here: Phoenix Health and Wellbeing Website


Relaxing Body Massage

Relaxing body massage at our Leeds City Centre venue aims to gently warm and stretch the muscles.  The therapist uses techniques which have been proven to be effective in reducing muscle tension and cleansing muscle tissue. The massage techniques have also been proven to reduce the production of stress hormones and stimulate the release of positive endorphins in the brain.

Aromatherapy Aromatherapy massage uses plant extracts to treat physical and emotional conditions.  The oils extracted from certain plants have specific properties. When we combine these oils they form a powerful mixture that will really enhance the effect of our massage.Reflexology 

Reflexology is a therapy that uses nerves or reflex points in the bottom of your feet to stimulate organs and structures in the body. It is based on the principle in Chinese medicine that we all have energy channels which run vertically through the body. The energy in these channels is a vital life force or Chi.

All of these energy channels can be accessed via the feet. Reflexologists have mapped the structures as well as organs of the body to specific points on the feet.  This allows a trained reflexologist to use the treatment to provide a non-invasive approach to promoting health and wellbeing.

Craniosacral Therapy

Dr William Sutherland was the pioneer cranial osteopathy from which craniosacral therapy treatment came. Discovering intrinsic movements of the bones in the head and different rhythms in the body.  He found that these movements are inextricably linked to mental as well as emotional health.

Our bodies cope daily with physical and emotional stresses which can cause the body tissues to contract. We rarely realize how tight we are inside and do not take time to relax and allow the tissues a chance to release by themselves.  Craniosacral treatment helps to relax your overstimulated nervous system and promote rest and relaxation which in turn enhances your body’s natural ability to heal.

Hot Stone Massage

A hot stone massage uses heated volcanic stones to warm tight muscles. Your therapist will position the hot stones on specific points around the body, usually the shoulders as well as the spine. The heat from the stones penetrates into the muscle and helps to disperse tension. This makes the superficial and deeper muscles relax and the massage therapist can then give a deeper massage. Sometimes the massage therapist also uses the stones during the massage.


Counselling gives you the opportunity to talk about issues affecting your life in a safe and confidential environment. Our counsellors will listen to you and help you work through any problems or difficulties you may have in your life. They are here to help you understand how past experiences may be affecting your life today, and your relationships.

Counselling can provide you with a space to think about how you deal with life events and help you to make your own choices.

Sunshine & Smiles Annual Report and Annual General Meeting

Sunshine & Smiles Annual Report and Annual General Meeting
Sunshine and smiles annual report front cover jpg
Thank you to everyone who came along to our Annual General Meeting and to everyone who voted by email to elect our Trustees for the next term.
The meeting was a great opportunity to reflect on and share all that we have achieved over the period 2014 – 2015 and to look to the future in terms of our concerns and considerations in the issues we are wanting to address, services and support we want to develop and deliver. Also how we are going to financially and practically sustain the organisation as well as growing and developing.
The meeting was opened by Marc Davies, our chair of trustees, who reflected very poignantly on the current social and economic climate and reminded us that in the midst of this we need to keep focussed on the work we do and the part we all play in making Sunshine & Smiles what it is … this is particularly resonant given the huge diversity of our families and we just want to reiterate that we are all part of, and welcome, in this amazing community and network of support.
If you follow the link below you can read our annual report which reflects a busy and successful period which we are continuing to build on… we hope you enjoy reading it.
We are also pleased to announce that Marc Davies and Jodie Barrow were both re-elected as Chair of Trustees and Trustee – Secretary, respectively, for a further term. Alongside Katie Kelly & Jonathan Astin they will comprise our Board of Trustees until our next Annual General Meeting in 2017.
Lastly, huge thanks to all of the trustees, our service delivery team, volunteers, supporters and all of our families for the time, energy, care and commitment that makes Sunshine & Smiles such a vibrant, supportive, resourceful and fantastic charity & organisation to be a part of.

Sunshine & Smiles Annual Report 2014-2015


Comments from the AGM and on the Annual Report

Lovely report. V impressed – well done to you all – Wendy Uttley, Down Syndrome Training & Support Service, Bingley
You must all be very proud – Angela McNulty – Special Educational Needs & Inclusion Team
Many thanks for the copy of the annual report.
It was very interesting to see the overview of your group’s work – what a lot you have undertaken and achieved!!  And fab photo’s, lots of fun been had too!!
Congratulations to everyone at Sunshine & Smiles, you have a highly committed group of people working purposefully to improve outcomes for families. – Janet Clark, Special Educational Needs & Inclusion Team
Fantastic report! – Pip Goff, Leeds Community Foundation
If you spare a couple of minutes please have a look at the Sunshine and Smiles annual report for the year ending 2015. This is a project the Foundation helped to developed. They have come a long way since they received their first community cash grant – Carlos Chavez – email to the Leeds Community Foundation Team
Thanks to all the trustees and those who spoke at the AGM tonight with such passion and drive, the annual report looks fantastic and as a family we are proud to part of the group  – Jill Williamson – parent
Thank you for all that you do – Sandeep Assi – parent

World Down Syndrome Day 2016 – My Friends, My Community

World Down Syndrome Day 2016 – My Friends, My Community

It’s here … 21st March … 21/3… 3 strands of chromosome 21 which create the genetic make up of a condition known as Down syndrome…

Here is our film for this year, created from the wonderful I Am Me photographs by Andy Lord and shared by our families, words from the heart… this is just the beginning!

Thank you to our Chair of Trustees, Marc Davies, for creating the film.

#IAmMe #WDSD16 #myfriendsmycommunity #Leeds

I Am Me


I Am Me Photography Project – 19th March

I Am Me Photography Project – 19th March

We are delighted to be launching our photographic project, I Am Me, at the visitors centre at Kirkstall Abbey in celebration of World Down Syndrome Day 2016 on Saturday 19th March from 10am – 3pm.

The exhibition will show the initial photographs taken for our project .. but this is just the beginning! There will also be a photographic workshop at the launch event, light refreshments and our Sunshine and Smiles gazebo!

I Am Me is a long term project where we hope to capture images and thoughts of as many of our wonderful babies, children, young people and families as possible to make these into a larger exhibition and hopefully a book!

The theme of the project:

Success…. Celebration…. Achievement
What is it? What does it look like? What does it mean? For who?

For many families when they find out that their baby has Down syndrome it is a time of many questions, worries and a journey into the unknown.

In this photographic project we would like to try to capture the journey that our children, young people and families travel from those initial feelings of fear, worry and unanswerable questions to those moments of joy, success and celebration … whatever they may be!

We live in a society where achievement and success are highly prized … even within the para and special Olympics these athletes and successes are outstanding and extra ordinary …

For most babies, children and young people with Down syndrome developmental and learning milestones will take longer to achieve and will need more support and input from parents, carers and others who may work alongside them … so when those milestones are achieved they are hard won and cause for great joy and celebration…

What we would like to show is how individual and unique success and achievement are and why… and the journeys we travel on the way!

Speech and Language Therapy Service Review – Consultation ends 5th November – Have Your Say!

Speech and Language Therapy Service Review – Consultation ends 5th November – Have Your Say!

A couple of weeks ago there were a number of information sessions regarding changes to the NHS Speech and Language therapy service.

We managed to go along to one of the sessions and there is currently an open consultation for people to feedback on the planned changes.

The basic premise of the service review is to offer different levels of Speech and Language therapy depending on the Speech, Language and Communication needs of a child and any other associated condition such as autism, cerebral palsy or Down syndrome that may have an effect on Speech and Language development.

Children with Down syndrome will be on what will be known as the Associated Speech, Language and Communication Needs pathway … in summary this means:

  • Speech and Language therapy will be focussed on training others who work with the child and adapting the environment to support the child’s communication development.
  • Parents, carers and staff working with the child or young person will be offered advice. This may focus on communication and/or feeding/swallowing difficulties.
  • Parents and carers will be offered free training; e.g Makaton
  • Training will also be recommended for staff working with the child or young person in a setting, such as a nursery or school; this is accessed via the NHS Speech and Language therapy service training brochure.
  • Children on this pathway who show potential for progress and need a specific piece of intervention will enter the ‘associated plus pathway’ and in addition to the above will be offered a set number of sessions (episode of intervention) to work on specific targets.

Once an episode of intervention has been completed there would need to be a referral back into the Speech and Language service to trigger another episode of specific intervention… but there will be a ‘fast track’ process to do this.

There should still be ongoing support at a nursery or school setting even if there is no specific episode of intervention happening.

We know that all our public services are facing huge financial constraints and that cuts have to be made but we did voice our concerns that it feels as though there is a further reduction in Speech and Language support for our children and families and that people may well get ‘lost’ in this system which will further impact on the quality of Speech and Language support children are receiving.

There is a consultation open regarding these proposals which closes at 12pm on Thursday 5th November … please do consider sharing your views if you value Speech and Language therapy.. link to the consultation below.


Just as a footnote – this change in service plan will not affect the Speech and Language sessions that we run at Sunshine and Smiles.

What we do and where your donation goes…

What we do and where your donation goes…

With the start of the Local Giving ‘Grow Your Tenner’ campaign tomorrow (13th October at 10am) … we thought it would be a good time to share this fabulous ‘info-graphic’ about the work we have done since 2013 and also share with people some of the regular costs we have so that people can see where their donations are going and how much of a difference they make!

£5 – will buy fruit and milk for one of our 0-3 group sessions

£15 – pays for one hour of individual support with a family

£20 – will pay for transport for families who would not otherwise be able to access our groups

£30 – will pay for one of our Mini Movers sessions

£40 – will pay for an interpreter for families who would not otherwise be able to access our support

£80 – pays for a Speech and Language session for up to 5 children or young people

£200 – pays for one of our family group activities

I know we often publicise fundraising challenges, events and activities and we are very conscious of not ‘asking’ too much … but as you can see every penny that is donated really does make a real difference and means we can make sure Sunshine and Smiles is sustainable in the future too!

So thank you very much to everyone for all that you do to support Sunshine and Smiles … and remember from 10am on 13th October all donations up to £10 will be doubled by Local Giving until the Grow Your Tenner funding is all used up .. you can donate here: https://localgiving.com/charity/sunshineandsmiles/

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