CLAPA in Lockdown: 6 Months On

September 23, 2020

In March 2020, we faced a terrifying prospect: without urgent funding, and the fundraising income from now-cancelled challenge events and community fundraising, there was a very real chance we wouldn’t be around in 6 months’ time.

So we asked you – our community – for help, and we were blown away by the response! You showed us just how creative, determined and positive you could be in the face of crisis, and bought us the time we desperately needed to plan for what would come next.

6 months on from lockdown, we’re incredibly proud to look back at what we’ve been able to achieve thanks to your support.

Keeping the Feeding Service Running

Our first priority when the lockdown hit was making sure the families that urgently needed our support in feeding their babies weren’t left to struggle alone. Thankfully, we were able to keep this service running safely, and will continue to do everything we can to be there for the families that need us.

Since the start of lockdown, we’ve sent out 366 Welcome Packs to new families, and 7837 individual bottles and teats to families and hospitals around the UK.

Keeping You Informed

We published our COVID hub early on to make sure you had a one-stop-shop for information about how the pandemic was likely to affect health services, CLAPA’s services, and people affected by cleft more generally.

We’ve also answered 187 direct enquiries as part of our information service on topics ranging from antenatal diagnosis to getting back into treatment at age 70.

We were also proud to launch our online Q&As to cover the topics that mattered to you the most. Our most recent Q&A, Cleft Surgery in a COVID World, is the most popular yet, with over 800 views!

Keeping You Connected

Our 3 Q&As weren’t the only online event we ran during lockdown. With the help of our wonderful volunteers, we also hosted…

  • 5 family quizzes
  • 4 Coffee Clubs
  • 3 events for children and young people
  • 1 event for adults
  • …and published 3 new episodes of Cleft Talk!

Moving our events online was a challenge, but it’s also given us an opportunity to try out new ways to support our community. Our Coffee Clubs give people the chance to chat about specific topics and share experiences, while our young people’s events let them interact with others who look and sound like they do.

In total, 327 people attended an event through Zoom during lockdown, with many of them never having attended a CLAPA event before. Many more joined our live events on Facebook. We know these online events can’t replace the magic of seeing each other in person, but for now we think they’re a brilliant alternative – and we’re glad so many of you think so too!

“Thank you for today. [My daughter] is lacking in confidence but it was so nice for me that she participated. I’m hoping the more she participates the more her confidence will grow. Thank you for creating a safe non-judgemental place where there was no pressure for anything.”


“Thank you for organising this kind of event under the difficult situation.  I feel less anxious knowing where I can go to get some advice if needed.  It means a lot to me”


Thank you so much for organising this event. It was our first time at a CLAPA party and we all had a lovely time. We’ll definitely be looking out for more things to join in with in the future!”

Behind the scenes, for those needing one-to-one support, our Parent and Peer Support Service continued to match experienced volunteers with people who needed a listening ear. Since lockdown, we’ve matched up 21 people with a supporter, and helped many more find services that would better meet their needs.

Social media was a key way we kept you connected with us and each other. During lockdown, our reach exploded, with an average of 235,385 people seeing our posts each month.

We’re sure part of this is down to one of our favourite lockdown innovations: Daily Smiles! Today, we posted our 184th Daily Smile and with submissions continuing to pour in, we look forward for continuing this wonderful dose of daily positivity long into the future.

Everything Else

During Lockdown, we also…

  • Worked with 8 researchers to bring their work to the CLAPA Community, both behind the scenes and with adverts on our website and beyond.
  • Published 2 academic papers in conjunction with the Centre for Appearance Research on the topics of Emotional Wellbeing and Physical Health.
  • Published a number of video interviews with people affected by cleft about their experiences, including our #BehindEverySmile series featuring the Children and Young People’s Council.

Moving Forward

In July, we launched a short survey to take the pulse of our community and find out more about how you’d been affected by lockdown, and 268 of you responded! We recently published the results of this survey, and have been using these results to guide the development of our work in August and September.

Right now, we’re busy behind the scenes making plans to ensure CLAPA will still be there to support families like yours for years to come. There have been some huge changes in the past year, and we know the road ahead remains uncertain, but we’ll do all we can to be by your side every step of the way.

Join Team CLAPA

Since Lockdown, you’ve raised an incredible £157,652 through direct donations and fundraisers. This includes donations from the 171 new regular donors who have signed up as CLAPA Champions.

We’ve also been extremely grateful to receive nearly £150,000 of emergency funding from the National Lottery Community Fund, the VTCT Foundation, CAF and The Edward Gostling Foundation

This has allowed us to keep the feeding service going, to create new events and services to bring you together,  during one of the toughest times in living memory, and to be there for families like yours when they’ve needed us the most.

CLAPA was founded by people who believed if we only worked together, a brighter future was possible for babies born with a cleft. Thanks to your support over the past 6 months, this future is within reach.

We can’t stop now. We need to raise £25,000 each month from our community to ensure that our vital services can keep running in the months to come.

Can you help us be there for everyone who needs us for years to come?

  • Become a CLAPA ChampionInvest in the future of the cleft community by signing up to make a regular donation of any amount.
  • World Smile Day, Friday 2nd October: Keep an eye out and join in our fundraising efforts this World Smile Day. Make sure you’ve signed up to our CLAPA Connect E-Newsletter to find out more!
  • Fancy a Challenge? Stay tuned to find out more about a new community-wide challenge event coming in October!

Find Your #TeamCLAPA Inspiration

Over the last 6 months we’ve been blown away by the incredible, creative ways our wonderful fundraisers have supported us. Here are some of our favourite stories:

  • Rob’s Marathon for CLAPAOver the years, Rob and his wife received support from CLAPA throughout their son’s cleft journey. Rob decided he wanted to give something back and planned to run the Edinburgh marathon this year. After this was postponed due to Coronavirus, he organised his very own challenge, running the Isle of Wight marathon route with some friends and helpers, and has managed to raise a remarkable £1,000 for CLAPA!
  • Claire’s Cake Sale: Back in June, Claire and her family decided to fundraise for CLAPA and organised a socially distanced cake sale at the end of their driveway. With foot-traffic increased by their village’s scarecrow competition that day, Claire and her family managed to get lots of friends, neighbours and strangers involved. While spreading the word about CLAPA, they managed to raise £448 with their bakes!
  • Jenny’s 73 mile walk: Jenny decided to walk 73 miles in 20 days, or the distance from her home to the CLAPA office in London! She actually finished the big walk early in 13 days, with 74 miles and raised an £383 – double her target!
  • Teddy’s triathlon for CLAPA: 7 year-old Teddy’s little sister was born with Pierre Robin Sequence and a cleft palate. Teddy wanted to do something to help, so to mark the start of Awareness Week he completed a triathlon for CLAPA. He did 15 laps of his local green with 5 on his bike, 5 on his scooter and 5 running, and raised an amazing £700!

To every single one of you who have supported us in whatever way you can: THANK YOU! Thank you for believing in us, and believing in a brighter future for people affected by cleft in the UK. Everything we’ve achieved in the past six months, and everything we’ll achieve moving forward, is thanks to you! ?

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