The Cleft Lip and Palate Association (CLAPA) is the representative organisation for all those in the UK affected by cleft lip and/or palate. The charity works to provide non-medical services which complement the medical care provided by the specialist NHS Cleft Teams, and aims to support people with cleft and their families from infancy through to adulthood. CLAPA’s vision is a world where having a cleft is no barrier to achieving your desires and ambitions.
Part of this vision involved making sure that families and individuals affected by cleft all around the UK are well-supported. CLAPA run a variety of support services for the entire community, as well as services specifically targeted at parents and families, children and young people, and adults with a cleft.
One of the community events run by CLAPA is an annual Awareness Week in May which sees fundraising and awareness-raising events taking place across the country, from bake sales to sponsored walks and treasure hunts. This is a chance for everyone in the CLAPA Community to start a conversation about cleft with their friends, family and colleagues –making ignorance and stigma a thing of the past.
Happy Faces groups
Happy Faces groups are designed to give parents and carers of a child with a cleft lip and/or palate the chance to have a chat, share experiences and meet others in a similar situation, whilst their children enjoy playing and socialising in a friendly environment. Groups are held in community venues, children’s centres and sometimes local parks.
Happy Faces groups are organised by volunteers who are trained as Parent Contacts with CLAPA and supported by CLAPA staff. Happy Faces Coordinators can apply to the CLAPA regional fund for funding to run events. There are a total of 18 Happy Faces groups across the UK, and CLAPA are working to deliver Volunteer Induction Days and Parent Contact training around the UK, so more and more parents are being inspired to set up their own groups.
You can visit this webpage to find regional contacts for Happy Faces groups, as well as CLAPA branches local to you. More information on volunteering for Happy Faces groups or setting up your own can be found here.