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Thank You

to our Big Give Christmas Challenge Supporters

You did it!

You have helped us raise £25,000 to reduce loneliness and social isolation faced by people with learning disabilities in Nottinghamshire. In just seven days!
Thanks to supporters like you, people with learning disabilities will have new opportunities to build confidence, self-esteem, positive friendships, have fun and take part in community life. All these things are proven to make a difference to physical and emotional wellbeing – so your donation will have a long-term impact.
And by opting to donate via the Big Give Christmas Challenge your donation was doubled and so had double the impact too.

Why is loneliness a big problem?

One in four people with learning disabilities interviewed for research said they didn’t have any friends (‘Loneliness & Cruelty’, Gravell 2012)

This shocking statistic is confirmed by stories that Reach staff hear from clients every week. Stories of people who rarely leave their house, even their bedroom. Stories of ‘mate crime’ where people have been exploited or abused by those they thought of as friends. Stories of people unable to access basic community facilities due to low income, patchy local transport or fear of being misunderstood.

As adults, we build our sense of belonging and self-identity through work, relationships, leisure activities and so on. For many adults with learning disabilities these opportunities are not available or accessible.

Feeling cut off from society affects people’s mental and physical health, stops people enjoying life and worsens feelings of low confidence and self-esteem. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for people with learning disabilities to fear harassment and abuse when out in the community. This can further deter people from interacting with others or even doing everyday things like going out to the shops. It is all too easy to get trapped in a cycle of loneliness and social isolation.

By running our courses and social activities, Reach supports people with learning disabilities to make new friends, feel more connected to other people and take part in community life. Activities are led by expert staff with the support of local volunteers who support our clients to practice new skills – including communication skills – and build confidence and self-esteem in a safe, supportive environment. We also work hard to tackle negative perceptions about people with learning disabilities.

What does Reach do?

At any one week at Reach, you will find a whole host of fun learning and social activities going on at our centres in Southwell, Mansfield and Newark. Our Flower Pod horticultural social enterprise based just outside Southwell is no exception. A typical week at Reach includes:

  • Over 40 courses
  • Evening social groups including Boccia, Bowling, Friday Night Social, Young People’s Group, Men’s Cookery
  • Supported volunteering and opportunity to get involved in local events and activities
  • Day trips and outings
  • Twice yearly holidays
  • Communications skills courses
  • Support to build self-esteem and confidence
  • One-to-one life-skills support led by trained volunteers
  • Regular volunteers providing motivation, encouragement and opportunities to practise new skills – including communication skills – in a safe and supportive environment.
  • Opportunities to take part in local events and work and learn alongside other local people.

How will your donations help?

Your donations to our ‘Not Lonely this Christmas Appeal’ are helping to fund year-round activities where people with learning disabilities can build confidence and self-esteem, improve communication skills, learn practical skills, make vital friendships and fun.

Activities are based in our welcoming, friendly centres in Southwell, Mansfield, Newark and Flower Pod (Southwell) or out in the community.

Your gifts are genuinely making a difference to the lives of people with learning disabilities in Nottinghamshire.

Donations raised are being distributed to our centres for the following activities:

  • Courses and activities to build confidence, self-esteem and communications skills and to explore ways to stay safe and well
  • Social evenings
  • Day trips and outings – including subsidised places for those on low incomes
  • Purchase of new resources and equipment including new tablets to facilitate communication and digital learning
  • Training and ‘on-the-job’ support to clients ready to progress into supported volunteering roles
  • Recruitment of new volunteers and offer training and support to volunteers.

If you would like to receive regular updates about our work and fundraising news please visit our Keeping in Touch page.
Thank you again for your support – it has helped make a genuine difference to the lives of people with learning disabilities in Nottinghamshire.

Our Stories

Anita has been a Reach client for nearly 3 years. She has a full and busy diary during the week. On Mondays, she volunteers at Flower Pod and helps put together a weekly flower display for a regular customer. On Tuesdays, Anita is back at Flower Pod again, this time working alongside other clients and volunteers to get important jobs done. She likes to do weeding, confetti-making and decorating jam jars for table floral displays.

On Wednesdays, Anita attends Reach Newark for a ‘Cook and Eat’ course. As well as learning vital food preparation skills, participants can enjoy a social meal together.

Fridays for Anita are all about the Newark Women’s Group which offers the chance to try different community facilities and practise skills with the support of volunteers in a non-judgemental environment.

Anita says she felt very shy when she first came to Reach, but that “volunteers helped me to get out of my shell. When I did a taster session the volunteers gave me a big welcome.”

Anita thinks that one of the best things about coming to Reach is having “great fun and laughter – people saying funny things”. She has also enjoyed going bowling and is looking forward to going with Reach friends to see the panto at Newark Palace Theatre.

Tom is 22 and has been attending Reach for about two years. Tom describes how Reach staff have helped him think about what makes friendships and relationships positive and rewarding. He goes to Media Fun, Food & Fitness, Art and Socials at Reach Southwell, and attends Flower Pod on a Tuesday afternoon and all day on a Wednesday.

Media Fun gives Tom the opportunity to practise his technology skills and develop performances as part of a team. Going to Flower Pod offers Tom the chance for some outdoor exercise and fresh air, whilst working alongside local volunteers on horticultural tasks.

On Thursdays, Tom goes out and about with a Reach Care support worker, opting to do fun things like going to the cinema or playing golf. Tom enjoys attending regular one-to-one cookery classes with a long-serving Reach Southwell volunteer where he gets to prepare and share a meal with family and friends. Tom also recently had fun joining his Reach friends on a weekend holiday supported by Reach staff and volunteers.

Both Reach Southwell and Flower Pod offer Tom a relaxed, safe environment where he can be himself. He especially enjoys helping his peers at Flower Pod. One of the things that Tom really likes about Reach is the opportunity to be with other people. Tom says, “I am happier now than in the past. Being part of a group… it’s more fun.”

Brian has been attending Reach Mansfield for the last few years. He has found Reach to be a source of support, friendship and purpose.

Brian lives by himself and looks forward to coming to his dance and cooking sessions every week. He now brings his lunch to eat with the group before the dance session starts, which has helped Brian feel a sense of belonging with the group. He has even taken on a mentoring role in the cooking sessions as an opportunity to share his enthusiasm for cooking.

Brian also attends the Reach Mansfield Diabetes Awareness Group each week, and has found the group to be a safe space to talk about his experience of living with Type 2 Diabetes. Brian has developed good friendships with others at Reach and feels a part of the community.

“At Reach I see my friends and we all learn about getting on with people.”Helen, Reach client

We are holding ‘Open Days’ at our Southwell, Newark and Mansfield centres during Christmas Challenge week and offering on-line donation booths for supporters without on-line access. Our Southwell centre will also be open during Southwell’s Late Night Shopping on 30th November. Full details on our events calendar or this leaflet.

Big Give information

  • We are aiming to raise £25,000 in one week towards learning and social activities for people with learning disabilities undertaken at Reach centres in Mansfield, Newark and Southwell.
  • On-line donations on our Big Give Christmas Challenge page will be matched pound for pound from our ‘matched funding pot’ until the ‘pot’ is exhausted.So for example£10 from you + £10 from our Big Give matched funding pot = £20
  • Please note donations can only be doubled between midday on 28th November to midday on 5th December and only via the Big Give Christmas Challenge portal – not the Reach website.
  • The Big Give Christmas Challenge is a national matched funding campaign. More info at