KIDS at 50

Welcome to KIDS’ 50th Anniversary

For 50 years, KIDS has worked alongside disabled children, young people and their families.

We’ve directly helped many thousands of children and young people, supported their families and worked creatively to provide support in the way that’s right for each individual We’re delighted to share examples of our achievements over five decades; stories from families we’ve supported, young people who have used our services, trustees who have guided our work and staff who have dedicated their working lives to championing the needs of disabled children.

We have a gallery showcasing some of the events we’ve organised and from some of our services over the years, messages of support, and a timeline (coming soon) illustrating a snapshot of some of our achievements in each of the decades.

As the anniversary year progresses we will be adding more content so please do check back regularly. And if you spot a gap or have a story to share we’d love to hear from you!

Austin has been a Trustee of KIDS for eight years however his associated with KIDS started 30 years ago with our Lady Allen Playground. He shares his memories over the years of being supported by KIDS and his role on the Board.

"My KIDS story began about 30 years ago. Our family has two disabled sons and are fortunate to live near a KIDS service, the Lady Allen playground in Wandsworth, London. My boys loved the playground where the staff were always kind and caring; the facility was a safe, happy, place.

Lady Allen Playground encouraged disabled young people to use their imagination and try new things, safely of course, in keeping with the KIDS ethos of helping young disabled people develop to be the best they can be. To help support the playground, each year, they would have an “open house” for the kids, their families and the community. For years, my family BBQ’d hot dogs and hamburgers to help raise money.

When our daughter was in her late teens, she decided to run a marathon and raise money for Lady Allen. She raised a very decent sum and we agreed to use the money to buy a big piece of outdoor equipment. However, when I tried to send the money to Lady Allen Playground, the playground manager told me I had to send it to some charity called KIDS – which I had never heard of.

 At the same time, the management contract for the playground was up for renewal by the Council and the bid specification indicated that (lower) cost would be a significant consideration. I decided to help with the contract and, after a lot of lobbying with Councillors, Wandsworth renewed the KIDS contract, with no cut in funding! As a result of the successful funds raising and the management contract renewal, the then KIDS CEO asked me to join the Finance Committee and the Board of Trustees, to which I happily agreed.

Times were different when I joined KIDS eight years ago. Government funding, while never really enough, was arguably more available. When I joined KIDS, the fact councils funded so much of our budget, with comparatively less from private sources, was viewed as a weakness. In these difficult times, support from councils has allowed us to maintain a comprehensive set of services and programs.

Being a Trustee these days is much more time consuming as KIDS navigates through turbulent times financially while making available excellent programs and services and maintaining high safety standards – and also modernising and streamlining our systems and management structure. 

A big and very positive change with KIDS itself is the evolution of “One Team KIDS”. When I became involved with Lady Allen Playground, it was many years before I even heard of KIDS, but the organisation is far greater than the sum of its parts.

When I joined KIDS, we were helping about 8,000 disabled children, young people and their families. Now we serve over 13,700 families. We are very literally doing more with less.

An important difference I’ve observed during my years involvement with KIDS, is the perception of disability. I believe attitudes toward disability have changed substantially – for the better. The emphasis now is very much on ability and helping young people develop to their maximum potential and, for many of them, to become fully contributing members of society.

I have many happy memories from my association with KIDS. Just writing this note and recalling my days at Lady Allen Playground grilling hamburgers and seeing all the happy people brought tears to my eyes. Actually, spending time with the young people KIDS supports always makes me happy.

Meeting the staff, who continue to be the sterling loving, dedicated, compassionate people I remember from the early days makes me happy too, because I see our disabled young people receiving love and support at KIDS.

As we reach celebrate our 50th anniversary, I know KIDS is a healthy, happy organisation. We have serious challenges we must address, and we will. Although I will not be around, I am sure 50 years from now new people will bring the same love, devotion and professionalism to the support of wonderful disabled children and young people as KIDS do today"