Furzey Gardens closed: click here for full update

Minstead Lodge closed: click here for full update

Service update (27 March) from Madeleine Durie, Chief Executive 

If you have been following the development of Minstead Trust and our response to the Government actions on the virus, you will know that we have taken decisive action at each turn. Our two day opportunities in Portsmouth and the New Forest are closed though we are trying to provide support in alternative ways. We have had to close Furzey Gardens, Hanger Farm Arts Centre and Minstead Lodge conference venue. Core to our charity’s vision is being part of our local community and this is not something that we want to do, but we are in difficult times with difficult decisions to be made.    

We are doing all that we can to protect the people we support at Minstead Trust whilst applying social distancing as best we can given the needs of the people we support. For people who use our day opportunities, we are talking to everyone to find out what continued support we can provide but in different ways. We appreciate that situations change so we will be keeping in touch with those families who don’t currently need our services to ensure that we can help as best we can – even if that is just a friendly phone call once a week and provide you with some ideas and coping strategies.  

For those families of people in our supported living and residential care, please do not come on visits for any reason. It is critical for the safety of the people we support, and our staff, that you too follow social distancing. We have a duty of care to others in that household and to our staff that national guidelines are followed stringently. If there is emergency reason for the person we support to come back prior to the end the 12 weeks, we have put in place a protocol for staff to follow before agreeing to that return. These measures include assurances that your own household has self-isolated for a minimum of 14 days prior to returning to their normal residence, not coming into the house and ultimately, it will be the discretion of the staff member on duty at that time as to whether they feel comfortable with any change in plans.  

We have also asked for all deliveries to be left outside and no contact with our staff or people we support. For neighbours of our services, we kindly ask that you do not come onto our property at this time.

Throughout this crisis, we don’t want to lose touch with you so please stay in contact through our Facebook and Instagram channels. We continue to do stimulating activities and would love to share those with you and see your comments.

Finally, like many charities, we are facing severe financial difficulties. We have already lost significant from our community fundraisers, our business supporters, our social enterprises and we anticipate cuts in funding from the local authorities, just at a time when we have increased costs to manage the epidemic. We know many people are not in a position to help us as you too may be worrying about where your next pay packet will come from. But for those of you who are able, so that we can still be here supporting vulnerable adults when this is all over, please consider donating to our emergency appeal here now.

Service update (26 March): New Forest and Portsmouth Day Opportunities closed

Both New Forest and Portsmouth Day Opportunities are closed for the foreseeable future.   

We are currently assessing the needs of all of the individuals who use our services to identify how we can continue to provide safe support to them and to our staff, whilst continuing to manage their individual needs through other ways.  

We will be in touch with everyone to check what support people may need. We are working closely with the relevant Local Authorities on this approach. If you are someone who uses our service and would like to speak to us about this. 

For Portsmouth, please contact us on 02392 733 133

For New Forest, please contact us on 02380 812 002

Please note that we will be running reduced office hours at each of these services so if nobody is able to take your call, please leave a message and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

Service update (20 March)

Additional measures have been put in place to keep the people we support as safe as possible. We continue to try and manage the balance of helping to support people through the continuation of our day opportunities, but changing the way in which we run sessions to increase activities outside, making use of increased space and staggering break times in order to minimise the risk of cross-infection.  

As well as following these guidelines in Supported Living and Residential we are also reducing all unnecessary contact including reducing external activities, using online shopping where possible and, from next week, we have divided our care teams in two which reduces the risk of a staff member infecting the whole team should they develop symptoms of the virus and therefore allowing continuity of care. 

We have detailed protocols in place if someone we support shows symptoms of the virus including, where relevant, supporting that individual to self-isolate but also putting the entire home into 14 day self-isolation with staff support. We are following the guidelines issued by the Department for Health and Social Care including the use of personal protective equipment to minimise the risk of cross-infection. 

We are also very aware that the 24 hour coverage of the virus is causing a level of anxiety amongst all of us and this can particularly impact on the mental wellbeing of some of the people that we support. We have given guidance to staff to allow specific time for such conversations, but to help guide individuals to move the conversation on to different and more positive things for the rest of the day.   

Parents and carers who live with someone we support have been advised that if they show symptoms of the virus (a new and persistent cough and/or fever) to not let someone we support access our services and to follow the guidelines for self isolation.

Update on day opportunities (19 March)

Despite the announcement about the closure of schools yesterday, I can confirm that our Day Opportunities remain open until such time that we are advised differently.

We recognise that day opportunities are often a vital respite for families and are often part of an individuals’ wider care package, as well as helping to maintain individuals’ own health, well-being and independence.

We continue to try and manage the balance of helping to support people through the continuation of our day opportunities, but changing the way in which we run sessions to increase activities outside, making use of increased space and staggering break times in order to minimise the risk of cross-infection. We also continue to support people to wash their hands on arrival, after sessions and before and after meals and explain why we are doing this.

At New Forest Day Opportunities, we will continue to provide hot lunches for those who want it. Whilst there continues to be difficulty for people to purchase food in shops, you may wish to consider whether individuals who don’t normally take advantage of our lunches to consider doing so. They only cost £3 and can be purchased on the day.

We are also very aware that the 24 hour coverage of the virus is causing a level of anxiety amongst all of us and this can particularly impact on the mental wellbeing of some of the people that we support. We have given guidance to staff to allow specific time for such conversations, but to help guide individuals to move the conversation on to different and more positive things for the rest of the day.   We would encourage you to consider doing the same.

Thank you again for your support.  If you have any concerns, please do contact us to discuss.


Statement from Madeleine Durie, Chief Executive of Minstead Trust (updated 17 March):

'Following on from our update last week on our approach to the fast moving impact of the coronavirus, this is our latest information. 

'We continue to be guided by advice from Government, Public Health England and the Care Quality Commission and if that advice changes, we will naturally need to respond flexibly and quickly to the changing situation.  

'For the moment our day opportunities in Portsmouth and the New Forest remain open and will continue to do so unless and until the guidance changes. We will also continue to provide care and support to those people who are in our supported living and residential care services. We are fully aware that a number of the people that we support in all of our services are themselves in the high risk categories and where we provide support, we will do our utmost to support them to stay as safe and well as possible.

We will, however be stopping our community groups for the time being including drama and music at Hanger Farm Arts Centre and our drop-ins in Lymington, Romsey, Hythe and Totton. We will be contacting those individuals affected directly and will be offering telephone support to those individuals who are most isolated for as long as we are able over the course of this. 

'We continue to emphasise the importance of good personal hygiene and are encouraging social distancing as much as possible in the activities that we are doing. Our teams are adapting their services and support to try and enable as much social distancing as is feasible given the different needs and personalities of the people we support. In supported living and residential are currently in the process of dividing our teams in two working a week on and a week off that helps to minimise as much as possible any risk of cross-infection. In our day opportunities we are making use of the nicer weather to open up the doors and spread out more.

'We do ask that we now limit the number of visitors to our day opportunities at Minstead Lodge and Warren Avenue to only essential in order to keep everyone safe. 

'Our priority remains the wellbeing of the many people we support, our staff, volunteers and supporters. 

'We have also made the decision, in light of the Government’s advice that people don’t go to theatres, bars etc. to close Hanger Farm Arts Centre. Whilst Furzey Gardens remains open, we are looking to change the way we provide refreshments and more updates will be on those websites specifically over the course of the next few days as to how we are going to manage this.

Thank you for your continued support and patience with us at this very challenging time.'