Monday, 20 May 2024
Monday, 20 May 2024

Charities join forces to strengthen cleft care in the UK

SMILE Train, the world’s leading cleft charity, and the Cleft Lip and Palate Association (CLAPA), the UK’s national charity helping people with a cleft, announce new support to expand cleft care services across the United Kingdom, enabling further provision towards cleft awareness, education, and networking programmes.

Smile Train’s support will allow CLAPA to broaden its wide range of community engagement initiatives. These programmes offer vital cleft information, invaluable opportunities to connect with others who share similar experiences, and personalised support for cleft-affected individuals and their families.

Programmes will include family focus groups, coffee club meetups, dad’s discussion groups, antenatal support groups, baby sing/sign classes and much more.

The upcoming face-to-face and virtual meetups planned for this year will cover a range of essential topics, including speech and language therapy, building self-esteem, navigating post-surgery recovery, managing change, oral health, baby feeding, weaning, and surgeries. In addition to these vital discussions, the initiatives also prioritise holistic support with activities like yoga and mindfulness sessions, all while fostering the opportunity to forge new friendships.

For over two decades, Smile Train and CLAPA have partnered to enhance cleft awareness and improve access to comprehensive cleft care in the UK. Smile Train’s support since 2000 has been vital, funding key roles within CLAPA and supporting regional projects nationwide.

Susannah Schaefer, CEO and President at Smile Train, said:

“As we celebrate our 25th anniversary this year, Smile Train is proud to continue its partnership with CLAPA, empowering cleft-affected individuals and their families on their unique cleft journeys. CLAPA’s remarkable efforts to expand support services and cultivate a knowledgeable cleft community across the UK align with our shared commitment to making a significant impact. Together, we strive to ensure every individual has access to the cleft care they rightfully deserve.”

Claire Cunniffe, Chief Executive at CLAPA, said:

“We are proud of our longstanding partnership with Smile Train and the vital services they have supported us to deliver over the years. This funding will make a world of difference to the UK’s cleft community, and we thank Smile Train for their dedication to providing comprehensive, quality support for people affected by cleft and their families through our services.”

A cleft is a facial difference that occurs when a baby’s lip and/or roof of the mouth do not fuse together during fetal development. Left untreated, those born with a cleft can suffer a lifetime of difficulties eating, hearing, speaking, and even breathing.

In the UK, a baby’s first cleft surgery is usually carried out within the first 12 months of their life by the NHS. Globally, hundreds of thousands of children in low-resource settings do not have access to the lifesaving cleft treatment they so desperately need.

Over the past 25 years, Smile Train has supported more than 1.9 million cleft surgeries and has trained 2,100+ medical professionals in more than 90 countries worldwide.

To learn more about Smile Train’s global efforts, please visit smiletrain.org.uk. Follow Smile Train on social media at @SmileTrainUK. 

To learn more about CLAPA, please visit clapa.com. Follow CLAPA on social media @clapacommunity.

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