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Our Story

Fledglings is part of the national charity, Contact.

We are a non-profit shop that helps children and adults with additional needs by supplying products and equipment that help with everyday challenges. We provide an easy and trusted environment to find the right solutions and allow people to connect and share their experiences. 

 25 years               

Fledglings was born in 1998 out of founder Ruth Lingard’s passion and drive to help parents and carers of children with special needs find simple solutions to everyday challenges they face. As a special needs teacher and social worker, Ruth had a wealth of experience helping families and children, and Fledglings gave her an opportunity to reach more people in need.

In February 2019, Fledglings joined Contact, the charity for families with disabled children. Like Fledglings, Contact was founded by families of disabled children, who recognised that even if their child's conditions were different, they shared a common experience - of being a family with a disabled child. They understood how important it is to support each other.

25 Years Old

11th June 2023 Fledglings turns 25! Quite an achievement.

We are privileged to have received a lovely message from our founder, Ruth:

"Happy 25th Birthday Fledglings.

Hello, my name is Ruth Lingard. People used to say that Fledglings was my baby. It is true that, like many babies, Fledglings was an idea in my head long before it began in my home 25 years ago. Then, there was no internet and few people had access to mobile phones - information for families with disabled children was shared through paper documents, newsletters and product brochures, or by word of mouth, often at school gates, so finding products could be extremely frustrating.

Of course many products we take for granted today didn't even exist.

However, there were many wonderful people who freely gave their time, ideas and expertise to help Fledglings grow and develop. Some did extraordinary things like parachuting out of planes, running marathons or playing golf for 24 hours non-stop to raise money to help Fledglings on its way. Others responded to our requests, and produced bibs, all-in-one garments or special equipment. Thanks to all these efforts, Fledglings became known nationally and won several awards including one from our late Queen Elizabeth 2nd.

When Fledglings was 18, I said “Goodbye" and wished it well, but then along came COVID and I wondered how it would survive, but it did. Well done, Fledglings, you have not only survived in these turbulent times but you are growing every day. Now you have the much longed-for online shop offering more and more products that give opportunities to disabled children and for those who care for them that were only dreams a few years ago. May the dreams of today become realised as Fledglings continues “helping children to spread their wings”, our original mission statement.

Fledglings, if you were my baby I would now be a proud parent. Congratulations! I will be toasting your successes today. Here’s to the next 25 years."

Ruth Lingard MBE

Video messages from some of our wonderful suppliers

Cycle of Support

Fledglings cycle of support

Vision

Fledglings and Contact share the same vision: To support families with disabled children, making them feel valued, strong and confident to make the decisions that are right for them. 

Fledglings works with many partners, many of whom have been with us from the very start. Now families looking for practical products for their disabled child will not only be able to access Fledglings product solutions, but will also benefit from Contact’s specialist information, support and advice – all in one trusted place.

Why buy from us

We are a not-for-profit shop with a very small team that runs it. We work very hard to keep prices as low as we can, but this is not easy. What we can offer free of charge is excellent customer service. We go over and above to help parents and carers find products that will help. We are your one stop shop. In addition, if we don't have what you need just ask us, think of us as your personal shopper. Whilst we cannot guarantee finding eveything, we do our very best and are usually successful. Please email us at fledglings@contact.org.uk with what you are looking for or give us a call on 0203 319 9772.

We work with many great suppliers here in the UK, some of which have been started by parents and family members just like you our customers. Many are small businesses and we are proud to be able to show our support and work with them.

Every purchase from Fledglings directly helps Contact to continue supporting families of disabled children with expert information and advice. 

Supporting Fledglings means Contact can continue bringing families together at events and workshops to support each other, and help families volunteer, fundraise and campaign to improve their lives and the lives of others - this is our cycle of support.

If you are a parent/carer looking for funding, have a look at our potential funding page. 

Our values

Families at our heart

  • We are passionate in supporting families to fulfil their potential
  • We work in co-production, as equal partners with families
  • We genuinely care about each other and the families we support

Trusted

  • We trust each other to do the right thing
  • We treat each other with dignity and respect
  • We take responsibility for our actions

Empowering

  • We support and encourage each other to take positive action
  • We are non-judgemental and inclusive
  • We listen to families to discover better ways of doing things together

Bold

  • We are ambitious about what we can achieve together
  • We are determined and driven in everything we do
  • We take positive risks and learn from our mistakes

Contact

Find out more Contact’s national advice, information and support service, helpline, parent workshops and more at www.contact.org.uk

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