Sunday, 24 March 2019

WI coffee mornings raise £1,000 for five charities

WI coffee mornings raise £1,000 for five charities

SONNING Common Women’s Institute has donated a total of £1,000 to five charities.

The money was raised at the coffee mornings that members hold at the village hall in Wood Lane each month.

It was presented at the latest one on Wednesday last week, which was attended by more than 60 people.

The beneficiaries were the Fish volunteer centre in the village, Riverside Counselling Service in Henley, the Ways and Means Trust in Peppard, Sonning Common youth club Club SC and Sebastian’s Action Trust. Each received £200.

Jenny Ward, president of the Sonning Common WI, said: “The WI has a history of supporting the local community.”

The Fish volunteer centre, which offers transport and support for people in and around Sonning Common, will spend most of its donation on training volunteers.

Clive Mills, who chairs the trustees, said the charity had been going for 41 years this year and had gone from strength to strength thanks to some “fantastic” volunteers.

He said: “These days we deal with people with far more complex issues. It is not just a question of picking them up. We are dealing with people who have Alzheimer’s and dementia and we have to train many of our volunteers in how to look after them.”

The Riverside Counselling Service, whose 45 volunteers support young people with mental health issues, will spend its money on running costs.

Director Hilary Arthur said: “The national statistics suggest that one in five now has a mental health difficulty. The number has increased by 68 per cent in the last 10 years. This is quite shocking.

“One in five show signs of an eating disorder.

“It could be to do with social media and the pressures on young people to be liked or that we are living in quite uncertain times at the moment.

“We really appreciate the support of the community. Thank you very much.”

The Ways and Means Trust, which helps adults with learning disabilities and mental health problems, is still recovering from two unfortunate incidents.

In November the roof of the office at its Greenshoots garden unit at Manor Farm in Peppard began leaking. This cost £5,000 to repair.

In December, there was a break-in at Greenshoots in which a tractor, grasscutter and strimmer were stolen.

The charity launched an appeal. Administrator Denise Jones said: “From donations, we have now got enough to get replacement bits like a strimmer and we are updating our security.

“This money will help us make improvements to the site’s walkways and goes a long way to help.”

Finance officer Peter Lewis said: “We were set up in 1968 and the idea was that we would be able to look after adults with learning disabilities and mental health problems. The adults come to us as part of a work experience programme.

“Funding is interesting to say the least. Local government funding is always under pressure.”

Club SC is for children aged 11 to 16 and meets at Maiden Erlegh Chiltern Edge School and Tuesday and Wednesday evenings. Becky Jenkins, a member of the Club SC management committee, said: “We try to give young people a safe space to go and relax, play games or do arts and crafts.

“We rely on donations so we really do appreciate this. We are planning to buy some new equipment.”

Sebastian’s Action Trust was set up in memory of nine-year-old Sebastian Gates, who died from cancer at Christmas in 2003, less than three years after being disagnosed.

It runs Bluebells in the Hampshire village of North Waltham, the UK’s only purpose-built facility that offers respite holidays to very sick children and their families, enabling precious time to be spent together.

Annie Hoddle, the trust’s community liaison officer, said: “We try to accommodate everyone we can. Families come from all over the place. It really is a home from home and we wish happy times for all.

“We want to add a little bit of sparkle to their lives. By getting them to do those fun things together we get them to talk about how they are feeling.

“With the WI’s help, we are managing to fulfil Sebastian’s legacy.”

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