THINGS were in dire shape for the Andover and District Mencap earlier this year.

An independent charity which delivers care services within people’s homes, it was forced to make the difficult decision to close The Wellington Centre to members of the public on March 17.

Ultimately, this led to the closure of the Short Breaks Service (social and lifeskills clubs for children with learning disabilities), Children’s Respite Home and Clubs and Activities Service for adults with learning disabilities.

Following these closures, the team began planning how to ensure the people they support would remain engaged and stimulated throughout these tough times.

Becky Barratt, the centre coordinator, mobilised her efforts and began putting together personalised activity packs that were then sent out to members of our community.

This proved a big hit.

“Before the pandemic I worked on our reception and was responsible for coordinating our community centre, room hire and maintenance," Becky said.

"I have never worked in a care service before so taking on a new temporary role has been exciting."

Central services manager, Lee Roberts, then put a plan of action in place to turn this into a new service.

On April 14, a grant application for the newly formed Outreach Activity Service was submitted to the National Lottery Community Fund.

Then, a little less than two months later, they were told they had been successful and were set to receive £24,190 to use over a six month period.

"Due to the closure of our Clubs and Activities Services, we wanted to offer an alternative to ensure the people we support would continue to be engaged and stimulated by fun, skills-based activities during Covid-19," Lee said.

"I am thrilled that we have been able to develop and mobilise our Outreach Activity Service so quickly to continue supporting vulnerable people within our community.”