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Boost for charity using people’s creativity and unwanted items to help patients

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An exciting charity project that brings hope and skills to young people and raises money to support those living with rare genetic conditions received one of the first grants from the Care UK Wellbeing Foundation on Wednesday 19 November.

The Peckham-based ALD Life is a patient support group and registered charity for patients and families affected with Adrenoleukodystrophy and Adrenomyeloneuropathy – rare genetic conditions that affect mainly males.

To raise funds for its services, the charity opened a popular shop. However, when some items didn’t sell, the team became creative and founded a project that not only helped to raise money but that gave skills to young people and companionship to people living with disabilities and older people in the local community.

Fundraising manager Minesh Gokal explained: “We realised that the objects could be recycled into fun and funky things that people would want and we are lucky to live in a very creative part of the city – people were keen to take part and people were keen to buy.

“We discovered that there were young, talented people who were unemployed. They had learned art at school but not the practical skills of re-upholstering, painting or woodwork and so we could give them something that was not only worthwhile but that gave them skills too.”

The project was such a success that it was rolled out further to people living with disabilities and people living in residential care homes. Minesh said: “Disabled people sometimes feel ostracised in the work place but our volunteers tell us they love the project as they have fun being creative and feel included in the supportive environment. Older people in the homes we visit also have a great time. They have skills and experience and they enjoy feeling as if they’re contributing to something worthwhile as well as enjoying a good chat.”

“We are a very small charity and not well-known outside the area so we were delighted when the Care UK Wellbeing Foundation presented us with a cheque for £750. The money will be used to buy more equipment so that we can continue to develop the project and keep creating things people want to provide the support patients and their families need.”

Libby Eastley, Care UK’s Community Services business development director, said: “There’s so much to be applauded in this project and so much that chimes with Care UK’s own ethos. It’s environmentally friendly, develops skills, creates useful objects and helps to sustain a service that those living with these genetic conditions need – and this is a shining example of what we at the Care UK Wellbeing Foundation are trying to achieve.”

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