Learning disability charity Minstead Trust is announcing a record breaking year of volunteering to mark UK Volunteers’ Week.

The Hampshire-based charity’s 130 volunteers clocked up an impressive 11,000 hours supporting people with learning disabilities over the last 12 months.

Volunteers support Minstead Trust staff to help more people learn a range of skills; from woodwork to ceramics, horticulture to hospitality and dance to life skills.

Volunteer buddies also give people with learning disabilities more independence by accompanying them for shopping or trips out in the evening.

Minstead Trust supports around 200 people with learning disabilities to develop skills that allow them to gain greater independence and lead fulfilled lives.

The Trust also runs Furzey Gardens in Minstead and Hanger Farm Arts Centre in Totton, where volunteers work in the tea rooms and gardens and help put on performances.

Hannah Porteous, a Minstead Trust volunteer in Portsmouth, said: ‘I feel passionate about adults with learning disabilities having the opportunity to spend a day full of activities, including learning important life skills.

‘I enjoy working with people with learning disabilities very much. The main thing I have learnt from the students is to never assume what someone's abilities might be. Everyone should try volunteering, especially with the Minstead Trust, as it is a great way to get to know people and share skills.’

Christina Binney, a Minstead Trust volunteer in the New Forest, said: ‘I began volunteering as I was looking to gain experience in working with people with learning disabilities in relation to the field I work in. When I saw the advert for a dance volunteer (read my blog here) I was so excited to have found a place where I could learn and develop my skills as a practitioner, in such a tranquil location.

‘There is just something wonderful about being here with the students and staff, they are so dedicated and passionate about helping others.’

Ruth Farrell, Minstead Trust volunteer coordinator, said: ‘The enthusiasm and commitment of all our volunteers is inspiring and every single one of them plays a vital part in supporting Minstead Trust. Without their incredible support we would not be able to run many of the services and opportunities that we do to support people with learning disabilities. I only hope that they get as much out of volunteering for us as we do from their continued kindness and help.’

To find out about volunteering with Minstead Trust, visit www.minsteadtrust.org.uk/volunteer