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Helping hand needed for puppet group facing homelessness

The Praizin' Hands Puppet Group is set to be homeless in February next year
The Praizin' Hands Puppet Group is set to be homeless in February next year

A CHARITY which performs puppet shows for community groups across the New Forest has launched a desperate appeal for a new home for hundreds of its furry characters.

Hythe-based Praizin’ Hands Puppet Group visits schools, care homes and churches around the area to engage with the Christian faith and secular issues through creative arts. It was set up 17 years ago and gained charitable status at the end of 2019.

But unless it finds a new base, it will be homeless from the end of February next year when it loses use of a local private house where for the past 18 months it has kept around 350 puppets of all shapes and sizes.

In March the property’s owners will start building work before moving in.

The charity needs to find a premises that is not only large enough for storage, but also for rehearsals three times a week by its trio of volunteer puppet teams: the Big Hands adult group, Little Hands youth group and PSHE Schools group.

Beverly Eyres, a trustee of Praizin’ Hands, said: “To be able to continue the work of the charity and expand our outreach in the community, we are desperate to find premises to be able to rehearse and store all our equipment under one roof so we can be more productive in the work we do in schools, care homes, churches and hospices.”

Praizin' Hands visits schools, care homes and churches
Praizin' Hands visits schools, care homes and churches

Rehearsals are currently held at Lyndhurst Baptist Church and St Francis Church in Langley.

Puppets starring in the shows range from Muppet-style human, animal and character

puppets to large human-sized puppets which are used in ultraviolet light.

Characters include a cigarette puppet, light bulb, sunshine, star, liver and heart puppets which are used in presentations for children.

The charity supports the schools PSHE curriculum with various performances throughout the year focussing on secular social issues.

Its Big Hands Team stages shows every weekday in the four-week run-ups to Easter and Christmas.

However, the Covid-19 pandemic has forced all shows to instead be pre-recorded for screening at venues.

Praizin’ Hands has meanwhile expressed its gratitude to Longdown Activity Farm in Ashurst for allowing it to film part of its Christmas Nativity starring puppets in one of its barns last month.

Care homes, churches, groups or schools can email the charity for a copy of the film on DVD.

Anyone who owns a building or can help Praizin’ Hands can email info@praizinhands.org.uk or visit www.praizinhands.org.uk

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