18 November 2021

Dame Esther Rantzen is backing Minstead Trust’s fundraising week to help people with learning disabilities recover from the mental trauma of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Journalist and TV presenter Dame Esther has joined forces with the Trust to call for donations in the Big Give fundraising week from 30 November.

Dame Esther joined people supported by the Trust yesterday (19 November) to highlight the challenges facing people with learning disabilities as they try to live fulfilled lives in a changed world.

A dozen people with learning disabilities and Dame Esther gathered at Minstead Lodge near Lyndhurst with visual representations of the hobbies and passions they are missing during the pandemic. These activities are at the heart of a happy, fulfilled lives and are often now not possible for people with learning disabilities.

This has left many people feeling more alone and lost than before the pandemic, lacking the support, funding and confidence to be full members of their communities.

Minstead Trust is seeking to tackle this problem by raising £40,000 during its Big Give fundraising week from 30 November. All donations in this week are instantly doubled thanks to generous pledgers and will help the Trust to:

  • Re-establish its drop-in community groups to offer advice and friendship for people with learning disabilities
  • Give support to people wanting to attend social activities and follow their passions
  • Set up a welfare fund to cover the cost of social activities and holidays
  • Recruit volunteer and staff buddies to accompany people out and about in their communities
  • Offer courses for people to rebuild the skills they need to feel comfortable with others.

Dame Esther Rantzen, said: ‘It has been really quite moving to see how much people have missed their hobbies and passions, which they have missed so much during the pandemic.

‘I think all of us have felt a bit isolated and alone during the pandemic. Imagine how much worse it has been for people with learning disabilities.

‘People supported by Minstead Trust have had a really hard pandemic as many of the community activities they rely on have had to shut down.

‘This appeal aims to raise the money needed to reinstate the projects and activities that people rely on. If you can help us to bring back community services then it will make such a difference to vulnerable people. Please support Minstead Trust during the Big Give.’

Adam Dodd, Minstead Trust Chief Executive, said: ‘The pandemic has been difficult for everyone, but even more so for people with learning disabilities. They are finding it more difficult to reintegrate into society and finding ways for us to support them to head back out into their communities is our key aim for the Big Give.

‘Your support can help us make a real difference to people’s lives in this difficult time.’

Robert is supported by Minstead Trust and said: ‘I have found the pandemic really hard – the restrictions were so difficult. It was very depressing. I missed being my friends, having a laugh with them and doing things out and about.

‘I am very frustrated when I can’t do what I want to do out and about in the community. It would be good and exciting to raise money to help me go out more and even go on holiday! It would definitely make me happier.’

Minstead Trust’ Big Give campaign opens at noon on 30 November, for more information or to donate visit www.minsteadtrust.org.uk/big-give

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