Disability charity makes urgent funding plea to help stay open

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Minstead Trust
The Minstead Trust runs Hanger Farm Arts Centre (pictured), Furzey Gardens and Minstead Lodge

A CHARITY has launched an urgent fundraising appeal so it can continue to support people with learning disabilities and autism during the coronavirus crisis.

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The Minstead Trust was set up in 1986 and currently helps more than 200 people achieve greater independence, as well as providing training and work experience opportunities.

It runs Furzey Gardens and Minstead Lodge, and recently took over Hanger Farm Arts Centre in Totton – all of which have now shut their doors, leaving the trust with a decreased income.

Trust CEO Madeleine Durie said: “It is a very worrying time for everyone involved in the work of our charity. Our staff team are still providing brilliant care to individuals and helping to keep routines as much as possible to reduce anxiety.

“But I worry for the health and wellbeing of our staff team, I worry about the impact on the people we support and I worry about where the money will come from to help us stay open.

“Charities like ours are the fourth emergency service, and society needs our help now more than ever.”

As well as the financial implications, the outbreak has made caring for the wellbeing of people with learning disabilities and other additional needs a huge challenge, as many find it difficult to accept even the smallest changes to routine, while others suffer from severe anxiety.

Teams have been split to avoid potential cross-infection, and all office-based staff have moved to remote working, where possible.

Gemma and Isabel live in one of the trust’s supported living properties in Totton.

Minstead Tust
Gemma and Isabel are two of Minstead Trusts service users

Like many people with learning disabilities, Isabel is not fully aware of the situation, so needs support to ensure she is complying with the guidelines.

She said: “I am enjoying spending time at home with my friends, doing puzzles and colouring.”

Gemma added: “I feel sad that we’re not going out places. I don’t like not being able to go to the cinema, but I do like making cakes and doing yoga at home.”

The trust has set up a JustGiving fundraising page which states: “Our amazing community of support has always been there and helped us to become the charity we are today.

“Please give as generously as you can to help cover our daily departmental costs and buy the time we need, hour by hour, until we can reopen our venues again and restore our regular income.”

A donation of £30 can pay for protective equipment, while £100 covers staff costs for half a day. A sum of £1,000 would mean departmental costs were covered for a week, and £4,200 would pay for one month. So far well-wishers have given more than £13,000.

To donate to the fundraiser visit www.justgiving.com/campaign/minsteademergency.

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