CHARITY OF THE WEEK: Harrogate's Henshaws giving disabled people a chance to achieve their lifelong dreams

Charities across the Harrogate district have had a tough couple of years due to the Covid-19 pandemic and we want to highlight those who need your help and support in 2022.

By Lucy Chappell
Friday, 5th August 2022, 1:24 pm
Updated Friday, 5th August 2022, 1:27 pm

Henshaws is a charity supporting people who are living with sight loss and a range of other disabilities to go beyond expectations.

They believe that, wherever they are, everyone has the right to an independent and fulfilling life and their support, advice and training enables people and their families to build skills, develop confidence, help each other and look forward to a more positive future.

At Henshaws Arts and Crafts Centre in Knaresborough, they make more than just art, they bring people together in an atmosphere that never fails to inspire.

Henshaws provides support for people with sight loss and a range of other disabilities to achieve their dreams

Through their workshops, people living with a range of disabilities discover their talents, put them into practice and realise their full potential, and they use their talents not only to change their own lives, but to gain some control over how society reacts to and perceives their disability.

Like many charities and community groups across the Harrogate district, the Covid-19 pandemic affected the way the organisation worked and they had to adapt their services to ensure that they could still operate and help those who needed support.

Gemma Young, Fundraising Development Manager, said: “The last few years have been really challenging for Henshaws as a charity.

“At Henshaws Arts and Crafts Centre, our overriding priority was keeping our vulnerable art makers safe until we were in the position to be able to safely reopen, and this had a huge impact both emotionally and financially.

Henshaws provides support for people with sight loss and a range of other disabilities to achieve their dreams

“It is incredible to have our art makers back creating, and the recent Beer Festival and BedFest events saw the centre buzzing, allowing the whole community to be able to come together once again."

Henshaws Specialist College in Harrogate is a transformational place - a place filled with fun, laughter, concentration, and determination.

Through their personalised approach to education, learning and care, they empower young people aged between 16-25 living with a disability to progress and live life the way they want to.

Whether preparing for employment, making friends or learning to live more independently, Henshaws helps their students to make their aspirations possible and goals a reality by helping students find their voice when they thought they couldn’t communicate, take steps when it was thought they would always be wheelchair users and find employment when no one thought that they could work.

Henshaws provides support for people with sight loss and a range of other disabilities to achieve their dreams

Gemma added: “Having a visual impairment or disability can mean people lose confidence in their future and find themselves very isolated.

“Here at Henshaws, we strive to support people to ensure that they do not feel alone, and that they have the skills and confidence to lead a life that is full of choice and opportunity.”

Volunteers are an essential part of Henshaws and without the skill, time, and energy of them, they could not reach and support as many visually impaired people as they do.

Henshaws are looking for enthusiastic and reliable individuals to help with their busy activities, services and events calendar and offer training and ongoing support and supervision to help you develop your skills throughout your volunteering experience.

Gemma said: “We’re here to help people live life to the full and we don’t have the resources or the income of a large national charity.

“We’re always looking for volunteers to help across our services, in our workshops, our shop, our café and at our events and we welcome all levels of experience for as many hours as you can generously give, and in return we offer you the chance to get to meet new people and also a truly rewarding experience.”

Henshaws rely heavily on voluntary donations and without your help, they would not be able to offer their life-changing services.

You can also help by entering the Henshaws weekly Lottery or by organising your very own fundraising event to support the work of Henshaws.

For more information about Henshaws, head to

Are you working with or getting any support from a charity in the region that deserves some support and credit after the difficult Covid lockdowns?

We would love to hear from you by writing to [email protected]