Special Needs & Disability

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John Lyon’s Charity is committed to providing opportunities for young people who have a special need or disability. We have funded a wide variety of activities that give disabled children the opportunity to try new skills, have greater social interaction and build up their confidence.

Suitable projects include:

  • Arts activities (we strongly recommend signing up to the Cultural Inclusion Manifesto)
  • Education and learning
  • Employment initiatives
  • Family support
  • Inclusion opportunities
  • Respite breaks for families and carers
  • Short breaks for children and young people
  • Skills acquisition
  • Sports activities
  • Training
  • Trips
  • Youth work and recreational activities

Have a look at some of the case studies below for insight into some of the Special Needs & Disability projects funded by the Charity. Alternatively, you can visit our page on Recently Funded Projects.

SEND and the Arts
John Lyon’s Charity has also undertaken research to understand best practice for working with disabled young people and next steps for the sector from the perspectives of Arts organisations, special schools, funders, music hubs and services. See our Change of Perspectives Report under Recent Publications to find out more.

Action on Disability

Action on Disability is a disabled people-led organisation in Hammersmith & Fulham.  Its purpose is to create an inclusive society by providing and campaigning for equal provision, rights and opportunity for disabled people; supporting their independence and tacking isolation through its information, advice and services.

Since 2004, the Charity has provided more than £320,000 in grants towards Action on Disability and is currently core funding its youth programme for the third time.  The youth programme works with c.125 young people aged 11-25 throughout the year and provides tailored one-to-one progression plans and individual support staff for a number of its participants.

Working in partnership with local organisations is another area in which Action on Disability is thriving.  This year’s project will see its youth programme deliver weekly drama projects with the Lyric Hammersmith, dance projects with Dance West and music with Musiko Musika and the Tri-Borough Music Hub; in addition to being an integral member of the Young Hammersmith & Fulham Foundation.

In 2017, Action on Disability was selected to receive a promotional film about its work as part of the JLC Volunteer Films initiative in partnership with Media Trust.


Caxton Youth Organisation

Caxton Youth Organisation is the only youth club for young people with disabilities in Westminster. Founded in 1948, it provides accessible activities and outings for young people aged 11-25. It holds regular sessions from the youth club in Pimlico as well as residential trips to their base at Midge Island in Surrey and their accessible narrow boat moored on the River Wey.

Over 100 members regularly participate in activities including sessions on managing money, volunteering, interpersonal skills as well as social and recreational activities.

Since 1993, John Lyon’s Charity has awarded Caxton Youth grants totalling over £134,000.  In 2016 Caxton was selected to receive a promotional film about its work as part of the JLC Volunteer Films initiative in partnership with Media Trust.


Wormwood Scrubs Pony Centre

Wormwood Scrubs Pony Centre

The Wormwood Scrubs Pony Centre offers unique learning activities for young people with special needs or disabilities

Situated in an oasis of green on the edge of Wormwood Scrubs in Hammersmith & Fulham, the Wormwood Scrubs Pony Centre was founded in 1989 to provide riding lessons, equine assisted therapy and horse-care lessons for young people.

The Centre serves a diverse community from a range of social, economic and ethnic backgrounds, including people with disabilities. By caring for animals, the children learn how to work and integrate with each other in a safe, structured environment. The Centre has grown from three ponies and a muddy field to 18 ponies and a full indoor-school facility (courtesy of the BBC’s Challenge Anneka television series who erected the indoor school from scratch in 72 hours!)

The ethos of the Centre demonstrates a high level of commitment to the therapeutic value of riding and being around horses and provides a valuable resource for people who may not otherwise have access to such opportunities. There is a year-round schedule of therapeutic activities and community involvement.

The Centre offers children with special needs exciting and fun-filled activities of a kind which are normally denied to low-income families. It is also popular with children who do not wish to ride, but are keen to ‘help out around the place’. Young people are encouraged to work towards a variety of tests set by the Association of British Riding Schools and the Riding for the Disabled Association. The Centre also runs Equine Studies courses and students can work towards NVQs and other qualifications.

Support from John Lyon’s Charity since 1995 amounts to £172,000. Grants have enabled the Centre to remain open, keep the horses fed and shod and continue to provide opportunities for children and young people.