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Reach Learning Disability charity, with bases in Newark and Southwell, hopes to benefit from Big Give Christmas Challenge that doubles donations

A charity that supports people with learning disabilities is hoping to benefit from a national match-funding campaign that will double donations made in a week.

Reach Learning Disability, with bases in Newark and Southwell, is taking part in the Big Give Christmas Challenge, to help its My Place Online initiative.

The charity aims to raise £40,000 towards its work.

James singing on Zoom.
James singing on Zoom.

Money raised will help pay for online learning, social activities and resources delivered by expert staff to enable people with learning disabilities to feel confident to use online services safely and help to reduce the risk of feeling lonely and anxious.

Claire Hunsley, mother of James, 21 said: “Lockdown came as a real blow to James. He only came out of his room to eat meals, and wouldn’t join the Reach Zoom meetings.

“Normally, he is really active ­— always playing cricket and football, and power lifting at the gym. He has autism and Down’s syndrome, and lockdown seemed to exacerbate his autistic tendencies. We were so worried that I contacted Reach to ask if they could help. They arranged to take James out once a week, and to do two individual Zoom meetings every week.

“That was enough to boost his self-esteem, and now he is a master at Zoom, and does it independently. It was a miraculous turnaround ­— just a little bit of one to one attention motivated him.”

Reach chief executive Steve Shatwell said: “We have all experienced isolation in some form this year. Sadly, for many people with learning disabilities the impact has been profound.

“We are asking people to support our Big Give Christmas Challenge and help us to expand our online support, courses and activities and of course to help address loneliness and isolation in the coming year.”

To get donations doubled, go the Big Give Christmas Challenge website from December 1 to December 8, and search for Reach Learning Disability, My Place Online appeal.

Go to www.reachuk.org for more details.

  • James, a Reach Newark client, is pictured above taking part in Reach’s Zoom singing class.

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