About Cleft Lip and Palate Association

The Cleft Lip and Palate Association (CLAPA) is a small charity working to improve the lives of people born with a cleft and their families in the UK.

Three babies are born with a cleft every day in the UK. CLAPA is a community of families, patients and health professionals, all dedicated to raising awareness and working together to overcome any barriers caused by cleft lip and palate.

Our vision is of a society where everyone affected by cleft feels supported, connected and empowered to take control wherever they are on their cleft journey.

CLAPA’s key services include:

  • Online and local support groups to help people affected by cleft to feel positive, connected, and in control.
  • Local and national events to bring people together so no one has to go through their journey alone.
  • Providing specialist feeding equipment for babies born with a cleft in the UK, including supplying over 700 new families with free ‘Welcome Packs’ each year.
  • Training parent and patient volunteers to provide one-on-one support to those in need of reassurance, information and a listening ear.
  • An accredited information service that is comprehensive, accessible and community-led.
  • Training volunteers who help to educate schools, local communities and healthcare professionals about cleft lip and palate here in the UK.
  • Collaboration with researchers to make their work accessible to our community. We are well-respected as the voice of people affected by cleft in the UK, and our staff and volunteers sit on a number of boards and committees looking to improve and inform cleft care.

CLAPA believes that every smile tells a story. From expectant parents dealing with a diagnosis to adults struggling to get the care they need, we believe that these stories and the people in them should shape everything we do.

Cleft lip and palate has a wide range of causes, effects and outcomes. No two families will be impacted in the same way. The journey through treatment and beyond isn’t easy, but we believe that with the right help and support, everyone affected by cleft can be happy with how their story unfolds.

As the only national support charity for cleft in the UK, we believe it’s our responsibility to put the needs of patients and parents first, and to fight for the best possible cleft care and outcomes for every generation.

What is Cleft Lip and Palate?

Early on in pregnancy, different parts of the face form and come together just above the top lip. If this doesn’t happen quite as it should, the result is a gap or ‘cleft’ in the upper lip, the palate (roof of the mouth), or both. It’s usually caused by a mix of genetic and environmental factors coming together in a way which can’t be predicted or prevented. Around one in 700 people are born with a cleft – that’s 1,200 each year in the UK alone.

Cleft lip and palate has a wide range of causes, issues and outcomes, with a treatment pathway lasting twenty years or more. No two families will be affected in the same way. The journey through treatment and beyond isn’t easy, but CLAPA believes that with the right help and support, everyone affected by cleft can face the world with a smile.

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