The Leus Family Foundation supports children in the most need. Founded by businessman Dmitry Leus, the organisation supports disadvantaged and vulnerable young people throughout the UK, helping in settings including hospitals, hospices, foodbanks and youth clubs.
Long term partners of the foundation include Shooting Star Children’s Hospices, The Harrow Club, Bright Lights Youth Club for children with special needs, Brixton Fencing Club and Runnymede Foodbank. The foundation’s motivation is to provide opportunity where it is most needed.
Their founder Dmitry Leus explains: “When as a society we invest in our children, we show them that we believe in them and that we see them as deserving of opportunity. Opportunity can mean different things depending on the circumstances. When we give a grant to a hospice for the purchase of a bariatric shower, that is to support the great care and dignity that the hospice is striving to provide for very unwell children and their families. When we initiate and provide fencing lessons for young people in the most deprived areas of London, that is to offer them the life skills that can be gained from that sport to improve their broader life chances. We adapt to the need, but the driving mission behind it is always the same.”
The Leus Family Foundation is a long term supporter of Bright Lights Youth Club, a Surrey-based club for children aged five to thirteen who have special needs in the boroughs of Runnymede and Spelthorne. The children who attend have needs ranging from moderate-to-severe learning difficulties, autism, Asperger’s and Down’s, with some requiring one-to-one care. Children come to the club every Thursday evening for two hours during term time. The foundation’s grants have included privatising a local trampoline park so that club members could enjoy the facility safely, the provision of toys and equipment and special events such as the Christmas Party. With Bright Lights, the foundation sees the impact of the weekly club that is so important for the children and helps their families too.
Another long term recipient of grants is The Harrow Club. Over the years, the Leus Family Foundation has provided them with a minibus, fencing lessons and the now annual trip to Cyprus, all aimed at strengthening the support that the club offers to the children and young people it serves, who are among the most disadvantaged in West London, often living in poverty and at risk of gang membership or drug abuse. The Foundation has brought similar schemes to South London, notably its initiative to bring fencing lessons to state school children living in the Brixton area, in partnership with Brixton Fencing Club.
The Runnymede Foodbank has also received several grants. For the foundation, removing anxiety for families around the basic need of food is crucial for children to be able to thrive in other areas of their lives. The team was struck that families were really struggling not so far from affluent areas and there is a clear aim to relieve that pressure on families, in particular so that children can
There is little doubt that the Foundation’s guiding philosophy comes from the life experience of its founder. Leus was born in Turkmenistan, then the poorest corner of the Soviet Union. The only route to a better life in those days was via science or sport. He credits his parents for the life-changing opportunity that the sport of fencing brought to him and he grew up to be a European Fencing Champion, with all the travel and experience that gave to him. “It has really stayed with me. Sport truly changed my life. It taught me discipline and gave me positive adult role models. Fencing specifically gave me the transferable skills of strategic thinking and resilience. I feel a responsibility to pass that kind of opportunity on to disadvantaged kids via our foundation.”
The Leus Family Foundation is clear about the projects that interest them most. They favour high impact initiatives, where the benefits of the grants can be felt directly by the most disadvantaged children, whether they are living with special needs, illness or poverty. The priority is to continuing to support their long term partners, as well as identifying some new recipients that deliver high quality services to children and families most in need.
For more information about the Leus Family Foundation, visit their website.