The Cerebra Legal Entitlements and Problem-Solving (LEaP) project is innovative and helps families of children with brain conditions cope with the legal barriers they face. This programme is led by Professor Luke Clements, with the support of Dr Ana Laura Aiello.
We listen to families and help them get the knowledge they need to access health, social care and other support services. We identify the common legal problems that prevent families getting access to services and we develop innovative ways of solving those problems. We aim to reach as many families as we can by sharing our solutions as widely as possible.
In collaboration with the University of Leeds, School of Law, every year the project benefits from the support of volunteer students. They receive in depth training, which includes the allocation of practical legal research tasks. In 2020-2021, the project has focused on the experiences of disabled children and their families with the process of social care needs assessments.
Students provided assistance with an analysis of the survey run by Cerebra on ‘parent carers’ experiences of ‘child in need’ assessments for disabled children as well as searching for local assessment protocols on local authorities’ websites.
At the end of the training sessions, students have been asked to provide their feedback on the programme by completing a short survey:
- 100% of respondents stated that taking part on the programme had improved their research skills as well as their understanding of disability law;
- 100% of respondents stated that the training prepared them for the project;
- 92.2% of respondents stated that they felt they made a contribution to a worthwhile project.
In addition, our students particularly felt moved by the experiences of the Mums of disabled children, and other guest speakers (including from NGOs and the media), who kindly spoke to them. One student commented:
“Hearing from all the guest speakers, especially parents, was so helpful in understanding just how many layers of hardships are faced by parents of children with disabilities/special needs. These people are among the most deserving and disadvantaged in society, yet they are routinely discredited, ignored, and denied support by their local authorities. Knowing that this research will not only help bring about justice for parents of children with disabilities but ensure that current and future families are able to access social care services to which they are legally entitled, is beyond rewarding.
We are most grateful to our brilliant students and wish them all the success in their future careers! We also hope that taking part in our research will have inspired them to think about how they can contribute further to the fight for the rights of those who deserve social justice.