Holidays…what holidays?

Happy Easter

Sometimes people assume we’ll be shut during school holidays, because they see us as being something like a school, but I can assure you that’s not the case. As a charity, we’re here to help people all year round. Often people grab the opportunity during the school holidays to seek out some extra help for their children, or indeed for themselves (we help people of all ages).

So you might be surprised to hear that we’ve been manic busy this week, and will be the same next week too.

All week Giulia has been running Touch Typing courses for children, with 3 courses taking place every day, in our own hall on the 1st floor of our home in Farnham. (If you will use technology to the max in your life, which our guys will, then it’s good to learn to type properly at an early age).

Meanwhile, on the top floor, our 4 consultation rooms have been in constant use all week, for a mix of 1 to 1 assessments, and 1 to 1 specialist tuition and coaching. Normally our specialist teachers tend to work with clients after school or at the weekend, but during the Easter holidays we’ve been offering daytime slots for specialist personalised learning sessions. Ginny, Ceri and Sally have been so busy they’ve hardly drawn breath, with new clients arriving every hour, or every half-hour, for their next session.

Talking of which, the little chap who Ceri has just been working with asked his mum if he could stay and do some more learning with Ceri, even though his time was up. “It’s been brilliant!”, he said, “I’ve really enjoyed myself!”. As they went down the stairs I could hear his mum reply “That’s amazing! You’ve done really well. If only you always enjoyed learning so much.” The thing is, after spending a few sessions with our specialist teachers, we hope that our clients will feel inspired with a new approach to learning, that will spill over into all aspects of their lives, including the classroom. And these are generally individuals who came to us for help because they hated learning, had given up trying and thought they were stupid with no hope.

You can tell we’ve been busy, and also that our clients have been mad-keen to enter into our special world here in 24 West Street, by the fact that the doorbell’s been ringing so frequently and so enthusiastically all week that it broke yesterday. It didn’t break in a subtle ‘silently-not-working’ sort of a way, but rather in an irritating ‘I’m-going-to-get-stuck-and-ring-constantly’ sort of a way. As ever, Julie sorted it out. (She also sorted the boiler, and the sticking window).

Of course, our work doesn’t all happen just here in Farnham. All around the country, all week, clients have received help from our dyslexia specialists in various regional venues across the UK, as well as online video calls. They’ve been busy with consultations for parents, tuition and assessments of all different types. We’ve just started using a second venue in London, which will be exciting. More on that in due course.

Meanwhile we’re on a mission to reach out to more adults too. Dyslexia doesn’t go away just because you get older. There are huge numbers of adults with dyslexia who have never received any help, and many come to us because they are struggling.

Our other big mission is to help more people with dyslexia from lower-income backgrounds, and who are not coping in this cost-of-living crisis. Over the past 7 months we’ve already signed-off bursary funded support to 283 individuals who otherwise wouldn’t have been able to get the life-changing help they so desperately needed. On average each of those individuals has received £596 of support. So, on the plus side, it’s good that, thanks to the generosity of our amazing donors, we’re able to help more people. But on the less positive side, it’s a sign of the times that we are receiving more pleas for help than ever.

Of course, we couldn’t do our work without you. Our supporters are second-to-none, and a growing number are becoming Friends of Helen Arkell, or signing-up to run half marathons or organise bake sales etc.

This Easter, if you fancy joining our big team effort and helping us to change the lives of more people with dyslexia, just let us know.

Happy Easter everyone!