86% of disabled children in the UK are socially isolated as an impact of reduced support.* We need to help change this.

We currently support 769 families across the South East at Challengers, but we have 445 children and their families on our waiting list.

Without regular access to Challengers, families struggle to cope. That’s why we need your help.

By donating to our #FreeToBeMe campaign today, you can help give disabled children and young people access to a place where they’re free to be themselves and accepted as they are.

Every day at Challengers is different, but one thing they all have in common is that every child and young person who comes to us is supported to be themselves and celebrated for who they are.

Kids with disabilities often have to fit some kind of mould, but at Challengers they have the opportunity to be themselves, do exactly what they want, and feel part of something.” 

*Left Behind Report – Six Months On, Disabled Children’s Partnership, April 2022

Meet the families

We know that families who use our service depend on Challengers to keep their family strong.

Get to know the four wonderful young people who are the faces of our #FreeToBeMe appeal, and see what their parents have to say about how vital Challengers is to supporting them.


Clara is 11 and has Downs Syndrome. She has been coming to Challengers for 7 years.

“So much of life is just about certain rules and ways of being that our children don’t necessarily fit into. Challengers are such a friendly and dynamic group, and they just seem to understand the kids.”
Vanessa, Clara’s Mum


Jesse is 16 and has autism and learning difficulties. He has attended Challengers with his sister Libby for 13 years.

“Challengers provides us with respite which is essential for us to keep going as family. I have trust in the staff and know that I can leave my children with them and they are well looked after. There is nowhere else that can do that.”
Pippa, Jesse’s Mum


Jayan is 5 and has feeding and mobility issues and has attended Challengers since he was 3.

“It really helps Jayan to be in a place where he is happy and where he knows that he is loved. The Challengers team adapt everything they can, and always ask me – is there anything we can we do better for him?”
Priti, Jayan’s Mum


Anna is 12 and has cerebral palsy. She has been coming for 7 years.

“It’s so hard for a child that can’t physically control their surroundings to have a choice about what activities they do, but the fact that Anna can come to Challengers means she can choose – and having that choice is hugely important for her happiness and wellbeing.” Peta, Anna’s Mum

Thank you so much to Clara, Jayan, Jesse, Anna and their parents for sharing just how much Challengers means to their families. We spent a fun day filming with them, kindly provided pro bono by Jake Hatt at Free Bird Film, and we’re excited to share the full video with you very soon – watch this space!

We know that there are hundreds of families who feel the same way as these parents. Challengers is their safe space, and they rely on us.

That’s why we need your help…

Research clearly shows how important play and socialising is to every child’s development, yet 59% of families using Challengers have experienced exclusion from other settings. But Challengers is different – we will never exclude a young person from our services because of their complex needs or financial situation, and we respect and celebrate everyone’s differences.

Challengers provides us with respite which is essential for us to keep going as family, and there is nowhere else that can do that.”

Last year your donations helped us to provide over 90,000 hours of play and support for 735 individual children and young people. But we need to do more. This year it will cost £2.6 million to deliver Challengers services to support disabled children and young people.

So will you help us continue to support disabled children and their families?

How you can support our appeal

Donate to our #FreeToBeMe appeal today and help us provide hours of essential play and support for disabled children and young people.

Set up a regular gift via Direct Debit. Regular gifts enable us to plan, and help you to budget by spreading the cost of your donation across the year.

Like and share our #FreeToBeMe appeal on social media. With your help we can spread the word far and wide, raising more vital funds.

This summer we provided 1,500 places over the school holidays to support children and young people across Surrey, Hampshire and West Sussex. But these days are only possible with the help of our brilliant supporters.

Nearly half of the cost of our services this year must be met by voluntary contributions. 

Will you help us to continue our vital service, and combat devastating social isolation for disabled children and young people?

Our CEO Gen Dearman with Jesse this summer

Please donate now and help us give more disabled children and young people access to essential support in a place where they are free to be themselves.

Thank you for supporting Challengers. We simply cannot do this without you!