Today the Epsom Guardian is asking for your support for a brilliant charity which has been a lifeline for people with learning disabilities for the past 25 years.
The Sunnybank Trust, based in St Barnabas Church in Temple Road, Epsom, does fantastic work supporting some of the community’s most vulnerable and isolated individuals.
The trust has survived without any financial support from Epsom and Ewell or Surrey County Councils and has mainly relied on funding from trusts to finance its work.
But the impact of the recession means that this funding stream has almost dried up, leaving the charity in dire financial straits.
It needs £100,000 a year required to meet its overheads and staffing costs, and has only managed to secure a third of that to keep it running this year.
So this newspaper has teamed up with the charity to launch the Shine On Appeal, which with your help, aims to raise £75,000 by next April.
This will not only keep the charity running this year but will buy it the time it needs to find alternative sources of income from bodies such as Surrey County Council and the Lottery.
The charity is the brainchild of dyslexia-sufferer Tom Rhind-Tutt MBE, 86, who started it in the living room of his home in Sunnybank, on the Woodcote Estate, in Epsom.
It expanded considerably in the late 1990s after its patron, Status Quo singer and guitarist Francis Rossi, won £25,000 on a celebrity version of hit television quiz show Who Wants to be a Millionaire?, which he donated to the trust.
Rossi first became involved in the charity after hearing about its work from a friend he met at a gym who was working for The Sunnybank Trust.
The charity now has more than 250 service users and 180 volunteers and provides a weekly social club, Kites; a friendship scheme; and an independent advocacy service to individuals with learning disabilities who are facing difficult decisions or issues in their lives.
Rock star Rossi is urging everyone to get behind the Shine On Appeal.
He said: "The Sunnybank Trust is doing important work and needs all the support we can give.
"I would ask everyone to support the charity as much as they can. Every little bit will help."
Rossi said he noticed the "extremely worthwhile" work of The Sunnybank Trust and felt it had a low profile which he hoped he could boost with his support.
Mr Rhind-Tutt said he is asking "every member of the Epsom community to take action and help Sunnybank to continue to shine through the darkness of the current economic climate".
He said: "We are facing a huge funding challenge that threatens the level of support that we offer to so many vulnerable people who depend on us.
"It is in times of recession that the most vulnerable are affected.
"Every cut made in current service provision is another blow to so many of these men and women.
"Therefore it is vital that our services continue to provide for those who are unable to protect themselves from reduced support."
MP Chris Grayling, who has made The Sunnybank Trust his charity of the year, added: "The Sunnybank Trust is a real example of the voluntary sector at its best, helping people with learning disabilities and huge hurdles in life to get more out of it.
"I have seen their work on many occasions, and think the team of volunteers deserve both praise and support for what they do.
"I hope everyone locally will dip into their pockets and support this really worthwhile appeal."
Frances Rutter, Chief Executive of Epsom Council, said she was delighted that the Epsom Guardian was launching the appeal: "The Sunnybank Trust does a huge amount of work for a significant number of people in the borough with disabilities and learning difficulties.
"It is a lifeline for those who could otherwise be socially isolated, and helps them to build their skills and confidence".
WHAT THE CHARITY DOES
The Sunnybank Trust provides four main services to the learning disabled community in Epsom:
The Kites social club meets weekly, alternating between Tuesday and Thursday evenings, at St Barnabas Church, in Temple Road, Epsom, from 6.30pm to 8.30pm, with entry costing £2.
The club provides a range of activities and a place for members to meet up with old and new friends. Activities change from week-to-week and include jewellery making, art, card designing, live music, drama, t-shirt painting, theme nights and Boccia.
The trust’s friends programme provides individuals and community groups with a dedicated volunteer friend or a volunteer pen-friend to someone who enjoys receiving post. Volunteer friends provide company and enjoy activities with the charity’s members.
The charity provides an independent advocacy programme which aims to support, defend, protect, inform and act as a voice to vulnerable people, particularly those with communication, multiple or profound learning disabilities, who need to make decisions about aspects of their lives.
The Sunnybank Trust also provides a transitional advocacy project, Shout, which supports students at Woodlands School, in Ashtead, who have profound and multiple learning disabilities, in their last two years of school. It continues for a further two years, following their move into further education.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
There are a number of ways you can support our Shine On Appeal:
Make a donation:
1. Visit the charity's Justgiving page on The Sunnybank Trust's website (www.sunnybanktrust.org) and click on 'donate'
2. Text £1, £2, £3, £4, £5 or £10 to The Sunnybank Trust by texting TSBT16 followed by the amount to 70070.
3. Post cheques and postal orders payable to "The Sunnybank Trust" to: The Sunnybank Trust, St. Barnabas Church, Temple Road, Epsom, Surrey, KT19 8HA.
Volunteer to help fundraise or run an event, or donate gifts, services or vouchers for raffles:
Call the fundraising team on 01372 749871 or email firstname.lastname@example.org