HFT EbleyRd 02pHft, the national charity supporting people with learning disabilities, held a ground breaking ceremony on April 30 2015 in Stonehouse, Gloucestershire. The ceremony marked the start of works to remodel an existing pub and build three new houses for people supported by the charity.

 The project has only been able to go ahead through the incredible generosity of Bristol-based entrepreneur Eric Maxwell who has been a staunch supporter of Hft for over 25 years. Mr Maxwell’s contribution commemorates the life of his late daughter, Geraldine.

 Mr Maxwell was unable to attend the event due to ill health however, Robert Longley-Cook, CEO of Hft, officially marked the start of the building work by cutting the ground with a commemorative spade which will be engraved and presented to Mr Maxwell at a later date.

 Joining him for the celebrations were senior staff from the charity along with people the charity supports, the Architect, DJSA, contractor Campbell South West Limited and other supporters and well-wishers.

 The work is expected to take 42 weeks to complete and when finished the new accommodation will boast the latest personalised technology and safety systems to help support people with learning difficulties live empowered lives.

A special luncheon was held locally after the ceremony.

Robert Longley-Cook, CEO of Hft said: “We are hugely grateful to Mr Maxwell for his generous support without which we would not have been able to celebrate this important milestone and very sorry that he was unable to be here today to celebrate with us. Times have changed and our understanding of the best ways to support people with learning disabilities has evolved.

Moving into more personalised settings within the community, and having the option of where and who they want to live with, has maximised opportunities for people with learning disabilities giving them a greater level of choice and enabling them to actively participate in community life. As a result we have seen people thrive and grow. It is through Mr Maxwell’s continued generosity that we can progress our work to provide more opportunities empowering people with learning disabilities to live their lives the way they want to.”

 David Hanson, Regional Director for Hft said: “This has been an important day for Hft and for the people we support in the Gloucestershire area. It is wonderful to see the beginning of something that will so dramatically improve the lives of the people living here. Putting in the latest technology, personalised to the individual, will help bridge the gap between simply supporting people to live day-to-day, and enabling people to live more fulfilled lives.

Choosing where to live and who to live with is something most people take for granted and yet it’s a fundamental part in helping people with learning disabilities take control of their lives. Hft supports people with learning disabilities to live however and wherever they choose, often helping them move from residential care or family homes into their own place or a house shared with friends.

To find out more about the charity or to find out how you can get involved, please go online to www.hft.org.uk.

Photos: Fritz Curzon