Minstead Trust is saluting the contribution of its supporters in helping it to survive the coronavirus lockdown and continue to support people with learning disabilities.

Since March, supporters have raised more than £300,000 to ensure Minstead Trust can survive and begin to look to the future. The Trust supports more than 200 people with learning disabilities across Hampshire through supported living accommodation, day opportunities and employment training.

The charity’s community of support raised the money through individual giving, grant funding and fundraising challenges that included yoga, busking, running and gardening. The funds have seen the charity through it most difficult months, but continued support and fundraising is essential to ensure it flourishes during challenging months to come.

Minstead Trust’s supporters have helped it reach a more stable position to support some of the most vulnerable people in society, despite a hugely challenging lockdown period. The charity found its income vastly reduced as its social enterprises closed for several months. The Trust runs Furzey Gardens in Minstead, Hanger Farm Arts Centre in Totton and Minstead Lodge hospitality and events venue. These enterprises also offer work experience for people with learning disabilities to work towards employment.

The lockdown period has been particularly challenging for people supported by Minstead Trust, many of whom have struggled to understand the virus and have missed their normal routines. Many have been on the shielding list and had to isolate from their families, leading to loneliness. Every day of the crisis, care workers from the Trust have been on hand to support people to find a way through this difficult time.

Florrie is supported to live in Minstead Trust’s residential home and said: ‘I haven’t enjoyed having less structure to my days or the fact I can’t hang out with some people. Our day opportunities is done in bubbles which means I can’t see some people or do some of the activities I liked before like dance and computer studies.

‘But now we can do more it is better, I have been to New Forest Wildlife Park and Longdown Farm. I like the wolves at the wildlife park and I fed a cow at the farm.

‘The whole situation has made me feel a bit down but I have a book where I write down my feelings and talk them over with my support workers. They have really helped me.

‘Now we can do more like go and do our food shopping. Lockdown has been very stressful and things are still difficult but I am getting happier.’

Without support from more than 350 individuals who donated or fundraised for Minstead Trust, the charity’s future would have been in doubt. The support has helped the Trust:

  • Support over 150 people throughout lockdown
  • Purchase PPE and signage to keep staff, visitors and people supported by the Trust safe.
  • Film over 150 videos with activities for people to try at home, including gardening, craft and dance.
  • Reopen Furzey Gardens, with over nine thousand visitors since June
  • Produce 15 live streamed performances from Hanger Farm Arts Centre to raise money while the centre remains closed.

Coronavirus has been, and continues to be, a real threat not just to physical health but also the mental health and wellbeing of staff, volunteers and people supported by the Trust. To combat this, the charity will be focusing its efforts on improving health and wellbeing over the rest of this year.

In particular, New Forest Day opportunities will be shifting its emphasis in response, by focusing as a health and wellbeing centre, along with other initiatives to boost mental health to seek to tackle this issue.

Dawn Wood, Minstead Trust Director of Development, said: ‘We are so grateful to all of our supporters for everything they have done to see us through the immediate crisis. It has been truly humbling to know how important the people we support are to our local communities. We can all be really proud that in the darkest days, we all came together locally to focus on the most vulnerable in society.

‘Now that Minstead Trust is able to make a start on the road to recovery, we feel confident, that having got us this far, local people will continue to lend their support to ensure that people with learning disabilities will again live full and confident lives in our local communities.’

Minstead Trust needs regular sources of income to continue its work. To set up a regular donation to support the charity visit www.minsteadtrust.org.uk.donate

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