Over the last 50 years, Helen Arkell’s vision of helping people with dyslexia and their teachers has become a reality thousands of times over. The discovery, in her twenties, that Helen was dyslexic was to change her life and the lives of many others in ways she could never have imagined. You can find out more about Helen and the history of the charity here.
A new dyslexia centre
The Helen Arkell Dyslexia Centre (now Charity) opened its doors in London on 26 April 1971. Our aims were (and still are) two-fold; to support adults, young people and children with dyslexia and to spread our skills as widely as possible across the education profession by providing training to teachers. In 1987, the charity’s headquarters relocated to Frensham, and in the last 50 years thousands of children, young people and adults have passed through our doors for assessments, consultations, specialist tuition and courses. In addition, hundreds of teachers and other education professionals have attended courses, lectures and gained qualifications so that they, in turn, can help people with dyslexia. We have also provided valuable support to countless parents and to employers, and continue to do so.
Recognition for a pioneer
Helen received an MBE in 1999 for her work in dyslexia and further royal recognition followed in 2003 when she was honoured as a Pioneer to the Life of the Nation at a Buckingham Palace reception. Helen sadly passed away in 2019 at the age of 99.
50 years on
Since the pandemic, with the Centre shutting its doors during two of the lockdowns, many of the services have been moved online and, in the last year alone, we helped 1,028 children and adults with assessments, courses, workshops and training. We also increased the amount of bursary-funded support to those from lower-income backgrounds, helping 135 people through the scheme at a time when they needed that help most.
Our CEO Andy Cook says, ‘During the pandemic, we saw a big rise in enquiries from parents struggling to home school their children and from adults who had lost their jobs and were looking for support to re-train or simply find employment. Thanks to the generosity of our supporters, we’ve been very fortunate to have been able to offer many people our services for free or at a greatly reduced cost during this difficult time.’
‘I am taking my degree – a dream of mine I never thought would be possible and would not be if it wasn’t for the Helen Arkell Charity. Without their help and support, I wouldn’t be where I am today!’ Bursary recipient
Celebrating with ambitious plans
In the last few years, the charity has expanded its operations to London, Wiltshire and Oxford. We have ambitious plans to extend our reach further through regional hubs and online services that anyone can access. Find out more about our services here.
In the meantime, our staff, trustees and volunteers are keen to celebrate 50 years of making a difference to the lives of people with dyslexia. On 24 April our 50th Anniversary Lecture will be held online. This event features Professor Margaret Snowling CBE talking about Dyslexia and Development Language Disorder. Our Golf Day will be held at Worplesdon Golf Club on 14 October. Throughout the year, volunteers will be able to take part in a range of events with the focus on Dyslexia Awareness Week at the beginning of October. There are regular updates on our Events page.
How can you help?
Here are a few ideas to help but we know you will have lots of creative ideas up your sleeve. Do get in touch – we’d love to hear what you are all up to! And why not sign up to our e-newsletter for updates.
Run the London Marathon! We have been allocated places and would be delighted if you ran for #TeamArkell.
Leave a gift in your will – large or small, every gift is a lasting legacy.
We understand that current circumstances are difficult for everyone, but if you are in a position to help us continue our valuable work, we would be hugely grateful.
If you have any questions do get in touch by emailing [email protected]