#OTalk – 9th March 2021 – The role of occupational therapy in the charity sector

This chat will be hosted by Dr Naomi Graham @growinghopeuk.

The COVID-19 pandemic seems to have heightened the awareness of health and wellbeing needs across our nation and the need for intervention, particularly for the most vulnerable. Researchers such as Horridge et al. (2019) and Stuckler et al. (2017) discussed the impact of austerity on health and wellbeing for various populations. Horridge et al. (2019) reported that families of children with additional needs have experienced a cut in therapy services across the past ten years. The National Autistic Society (2020) found in a survey during COVID-19 that 1 in 5 families had to reduce their work during lockdown so that they could care for a family member who has autism.

As a children’s occupational therapist experiencing first-hand the service cuts for the families I was working with I decided to found a charity in 2017 – Growing Hope (@growinghopeuk). Growing Hope provides free therapy for children and young people with additional needs in partnership with local churches across the UK. We aim to grow hope for children, hope for families and hope in Jesus. Growing Hope is open to all individuals regardless of their background and beliefs. We have set up a model which aims to use local communities existing resources (such as space within churches) to provide free healthcare services for families of children with additional needs. We are trying to provide a holistic approach and therefore run groups for siblings and parents and carers to discuss and process their experience.

We now have two local clinics in King’s Cross and Brockley, London, and we have potential clinics in cities outside of London in the pipeline to launch in 2021. As a charity we want to be working with children’s occupational therapists, physiotherapists, speech and language therapists and other members of the MDT so that we can support the families who are currently missing out. We want to find out about other charities who are providing occupational therapy and how charities can work with existing NHS therapy teams in order to best support the clients we work with.


Are there other charities who are providing occupational therapy for free to meet a gap for their client group?

  1. What are the benefits of responding to client needs through the charity sector?
  1. What does the occupational therapist role in the charity sector look like?
  1. How can therapists working within the charity sector connect with NHS teams to provide further intervention for individuals who need support?
  1. What has the impact of COVID-19 been on your client base? How have you seen austerity play out for clients that you’re working with?


Horridge, K.A., Dew, R., Chatelin, A., Seal, A., Macias, L.M., Cioni, G., Kachmar, O., Wilkes, S. and (2019), Austerity and families with disabled children: a European survey. Dev Med Child Neurol, 61: 329-336. doi:10.1111/dmcn.13978

National Autistic Society. 2020. Left stranded: The impact of coronavirus on autistic people and their families in the UK.  [Online] . [29 September 2020]. Available from: https://s4.chorus-mk.thirdlight.com/file/1573224908/63117952292/width=-1/height=-1/format=-1/fit=scale/t=444295/e=never/k=da5c189a/LeftStranded%20Report.pdf

Stuckler, D., Reeves, A., Loopstra, R., Karanikolos, M., McKee, M., (2017) Austerity and health: the impact in the UK and Europe, European Journal of Public Health, Volume 27, Issue suppl_4, October 2017, Pages 18–21, https://doi.org/10.1093/eurpub/ckx167


The Numbers




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