CLAPA works to improve the lives of people born with a cleft as well as their families. One in 700 babies are born with a cleft lip and/or palate. A cleft is a lifelong condition that affects each person differently. It occurs during the process when the baby grows inside it’s mummy, and around 91% of cleft lips and palates are spotted before birth, so a proper plan of action can go into effect.

The charity offers lifelong support, starting at birth, where they offer specialist feeding apparatus. They also have an army of trained parents and patient volunteers to provide one-on-one support at all points of the cleft journey. The charity also publishes publicly available information which is accessible and community-led. Finally, the charity works to provide non-medical services which compliment the medical care provided by specialist NHS Cleft Teams.

What is a cleft lip & palate, and what can be done about it?

Generally speaking, a cleft lip and/or palate is a common term for a “craniofacial abnormality" - this is a problem to do with the skull and face.

A cleft lip can range from a small notch above the lip, all the way to a complete separation of the upper lip up to the nose. It can also affect just one side of the face.

A cleft palate is a gap in the top of the mouth, towards the throat. Sometimes a baby can be both with a small lower jaw and, might have difficulties with breathing.

CLAPA is there to provide parents with information about what options are available to them at every stage of their child’s journey. Often, babies will have an operation between 3 and 6 months old (for a cleft lip) and between 6 to 9 months for a cleft palate. Surgery involves reconstructing the shape of the lips and noise that weren’t joined at birth. As the children get older, they may like to receive extra surgery in their teen years if they wish.


For parents and carers, CLAPA is a link to the rest of the cleft community in the UK, as well as the practican and emotional support that CLAPA ensures goes above and beyond what is available with the NHS. Parents are often unaware of the condition and may find a diagnosis stressful and shocking, knowing their child’s first years will include surgery. Practically speaking, the baby could also find it hard to suckle, so the charity will provide specialist equipment for feeding.

For children and young people, the charity offers regular e-newsletters full of information, advice and articles from other people. They also offer a moderated Facebook Group for young people under 18 in order to talk about any issues in a safe and secure environment. There’s also the bi-annual residential weekend, designed to help young people build their confidence, have fun, and meet other young people and strike up friendships that last.

These are just a few of the important work CLAPA does with parents and children. For a full list, and more in-depth information about anything related, be sure to visit the Services page on their website.

Awareness Week

4th - 12th May: Cleft Lip and Palate Awareness Week

Get involved

Anyone with spare time to donate to help a great cause should consider volunteering for CLAPA. Whether it’s a one-off or a regular thing, there is always something for volunteers. For example, CLAPA could do with occasional help with stewarding at events, public speaking at cheque presentations, bucket collections and more. A full list of what roles are available, visit their Volunteering page.


244-254 Cambridge Heath Rd
E2 9DA


Contact Number

020 7833 4883