Parent and toddler group among popular services provided by community charity

LISA WHITE loves going with her 20-month-old son Max to the parent and toddler sessions put on by Hope Families Leeds.

Max gets to play with other children of a similar age while Lisa is given time to relax and swap tips with mums and dads.

"I love it here because everybody that I've met is really kind," she says. "You meet lots of different people and the facilities are really good. You come in for a couple of hours and the kids have a lovely time. They get a social life and you get a social life."

The work done at Hope Families Leeds is just the kind that will benefit from donations made to the Yorkshire Post Communities in Need Appeal.

Modest funding from Leeds Community Foundation was all it took to get the charity started and keep it moving for a whole year.

Set up and run by Gosia Denham in September 2009, Hope Families Leeds is based on York Road in large three-storey premises that used to be the city's library archive and is currently undergoing renovation.

From there, the charity provides a whole range of support services for families, including cooking courses to encourage healthy eating, banking classes to aid budgeting plans and coffee mornings for a chance to unwind.

Mrs Denham, 34, also offers one-on-one sessions to families in difficulty and makes herself available as a go-between for parents dealing with social services.

The parent and toddler group is one of the most popular services the charity provides.

Once a week mums and dads of children up to the age of six pay just 1 to attend, and are given a nursery-style setting in a room full of toys and nibbles.

Mrs Denham, a mother of two, says: "It's an opportunity for parents to let their children socialise with other tiny kids and for parents to socialise too.

"As a new mum you can spend a lot of time at home and feel a little isolated. And for children, when they go to nursery they know how to play and share."

They are planning to distribute 40 Christmas hampers to needy families in Leeds this month. Next year, with your help, it could be many more.

See Page 2 of today's Yorkshire Post for how you can donate or bid for a host of exciting prizes in our charity auction in aid of this worthwhile cause.