Leeds charity SNAPS hails its new president at a big tea party

THE founder a Leeds charity which helps children with additional needs and their families has celebrated her new presidential role in fine style.

By Charlie Bullough
Tuesday, 3rd March 2020, 5:00 pm
SNAPS president Anne Gait, centre, with charity staff members. Picture: Templars Photography
SNAPS president Anne Gait, centre, with charity staff members. Picture: Templars Photography

Anne Gait, who set up SNAPS (Special Needs and Parent Support) with a group of parents in 2004, marked her appointment with a presidential tea party.

The do at St Chad’s Parish Hall, Headingley highlighted not only Anne’s long service but also flagged up children’s achievements at SNAPS.

Anne had been a trustee of the charity since 2008 but stepped down from the role last month and took on the presidency.

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SNAPS president Anne Gait shows off her guitar skills to youngsters. Picture: Templars Photography.

The retired Mencap worker said: “I am so proud of SNAPS, the ethos of support for families with a child with additional needs, and the range of leisure activities we provide. These are fun, while also helping the child learn many new skills. It’s a safe environment for them and their parents and carers in every way.”

SNAPS was set up to tackle an unmet need for hydrotherapy, swimming and physical activity experiences. These activities can have such a positive impact on both the children with additional needs and their families.

The charity started small but has since expanded significantly. Water-based sessions, arts and other activities are run at Penny Fields School in Meanwood. And rebound therapy and sensory activities are held at Broomfield School in South Leeds. SNAPS’ main sessions take place on Saturday mornings during term time.

Anne added: “Although I have now stepped down as a trustee of SNAPS, I still hope to turn up at the Saturday morning sessions, just for my usual chat with staff, and with the parents and carers. I love to see the progress the children are making and get to know as many of them as possible.”

A young girl with a biscuit at the SNAPS president's tea party. Picture: Templars Photography.

SNAPS, which is completely independently funded, provides a weekly haven for around 80 families who get vital support.

Anne said: “A small charity like SNAPS is always going to be under pressure from funding issues, but as I leave the board of SNAPS, I am confident it is in very secure hands.”

Lucy Owen, chief executive of SNAPS, said: “Anne has been a key part of SNAPS for so many years that we were over the moon that she wanted to take up this new role of president for the charity. Anne is always a friendly, welcoming face at SNAPS sessions, she has supported hundreds of families during her time with SNAPS and made a massive difference to their lives. Anne is one in a million and we are so very grateful for everything she has done to make SNAPS the organisation it is today.”

The ceremonial role sees Anne join SNAPS patrons Hilary Benn MP and boxing champion Josh Warrington. The new president’s first function, the tea party, was a very well received. At the event, Anne talked about the expansion of SNAPS from its humble beginnings into to a slick organisation, which now offers around 1,500 physiotherapy sessions across two sites every year. Lucy added: “The party was a huge success with families old and new coming together to celebrate everything that SNAPS - and more importantly, the children who have come to SNAPS over the years - have achieved. Families took part in arts and crafts, messy play, decorated cakes and biscuits and made music together.

“The day was everything that SNAPS represents as it brought together families with children with additional needs to support one another and have fun.”

FACT FILE:

SNAPS is a Leeds based charity that offers physiotherapy to children with additional needs and support for the whole family.

The acronym stands for Special Needs and Parent Support. The organisation was formed in 2004 by retired Mencap official Anne Gait and a group of parents who wanted to fill the gap of offering hydrotherapy to their children.

Anne worked with a group of six parents and they initially met monthly in a draughty church hall. Sam Lambert and Beth Hughes, two of the founding parents, worked tirelessly with Anne to keep this fledgling group open for families who desperately needed its support. For many years SNAPS continued to be run solely by parents with Anne giving advice and help when needed.

The group moved sites a number of times before finding Penny Field School in North Leeds where they were able to offer much sought after hydrotherapy and swimming lessons to children with disabilities. SNAPS has seen significant growth over the last five years. It delivers sessions every week in term time at Penny Field and has opened a second site in South Leeds at Broomfield School. More recently the charity has opened a football club for children with disabilities and their siblings. SNAPS’ main sessions run on Saturday mornings during term time. See www.snapsyorkshire.org for more.