On the 14th January, Challengers held an event at the House of Lords, to launch the project Realising Potential. This project is to enable the charity that supports disabled children and young people become more financially independent and reduce its reliance on public funding.

Over 120 people attended the afternoon tea hosted by Baroness Sharpe of Guildford in the Cholmondeley Room & Terrace. Guests were moved by a speech given by one of the Challengers Parent Ambassadors, Fiona Blackley, who told a very real story about what it is like to raise a disabled child and how dramatically your life changes. She went on to explain that Challengers is a lifeline to her family and gives them a vital break to spend time with their other children or just relax worry free knowing their child is safe and having fun.

The project is responding to a need that is very clear where you see statistics such as: 84% of disabled children do not have regular access to play, 76% of parents & carers experience stress or depression and 80% of parents say they have reached or are reaching “breaking point”. This is a 5 year project that aims to raise the charities voluntary income to 80% by 2021. Laura Sercombe, Challengers CEO, said: “We want to respond and develop services in areas where the need is greatest, and to do this we need to be more financially independent”. The project will be responsible for the research & development of new sustainable revenue streams that the organisation does not currently have the capacity to invest in.

Guests were also honoured to listen to a supporter of Challengers, international novelist Ken Follett, about why he supports Challengers: “it is a wonderful organisation”. Jeremy Hunt, MP for South West Surrey, closed the afternoon with reminders of why organisations like Challengers are so important to the local communities and how lucky the area is the have them.

The project is being supported by 5 founder members and going forwards will have a board that will support and advise on the direction that should be taken. For more information about the project please read the leaflet below and do not hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions or would like to know more.

Laura Sercombe – 01483 230 060 / laurasercome@disability-challengers.org