In the money with Swindon Ball

This Is Wiltshire: Manager Neil Montgomery at the Hydrotherapy Pool, which will benefit from funds raised by this year's charity ball Manager Neil Montgomery at the Hydrotherapy Pool, which will benefit from funds raised by this year's charity ball

Seven charities have been announced as beneficiaries of the Swindon Ball. We bring you the lowdown on each of the worthy causes...

1. ADULTS with learning difficulties are set to benefit from a £700 donation to Swindon Interactive Arts Service.

The service, which was set up two years ago, provides weekly arts, craft, music, dance and drama sessions for adults with learning difficulties.

The Charity Ball will donate £700 to the service, with £450 to pay for arts and crafts materials, and £250 for a microphone.

Chairwoman Sarah Purnell said: “I was delighted when we found out we had been chosen. This will make a big difference because we will be able to get some really nice art materials. Also, the microphone will enable them to become more confident as some have a quiet voice and few words. They also love singing.”

They will use the art materials to create work for their open day, where they have a display of their art and craft work.

Swindon Interactive Arts makes a big difference in the attitude of the learners, their social skills and alertness.

Learners have taken part in public events including a song at the Mela.

2. SWINDON Advocacy Movement plans to use its share of the money to help get their members online.

Set up in 1995, SAM helps people with learning disabilities and autism to gain skills and confidence so that they can lead the lives they want.

They will use the £2,349 from the Charity Ball to help make an internet cafe in their premises in Regent Street, which will be open to all people with learning disabilities.

Manager, Dawn Dixon, said: “We want to develop the front of the shop into an internet cafe and the money from the Charity Ball will help us make a start on that.

“A lot of people with learning disabilities need to develop skills on the computer and the internet, and we want to teach them in a safe environment.

“They will be able to go online safely and use social networking to keep in touch with family and friends.

“A lot of people with learning disabilities are isolated in the community and they don’t have many opportunities or support to go out in the community.

“This is another step enabling them to interact and get involved.”

Members will also use the internet to access housing options.

Sam, which has a management committee made up of eight people with a learning disability and five people without, provides advocates for more than 150 young people and adults every year.

3. THE Charity Ball is set to help adults with high-functioning autism and Aspergers to use their green fingers.

DASH, Discovering Autism Spectrum Happiness, has been allocated £3,500 to help pay for seating, equipment and materials for allotment space.

In 2008, DASH used Charity Ball money to develop the ‘Nectar Superstore’ as an occupational project and social enterprise to grow and sell native flowers.

This has evolved into Swindon Wildflower Nursery, successfully fulfilling its potential to engage positively with adults with Aspergers and their carers, and at the same time raise funds to sustain DASH services and support local environment and community groups.

The £3,500 will be used to expand into TWIGS allotments.

Working in the allotments will encourage DASH clients to break their isolation and engage in meaningful activities relating to the nursery.

This might be physical tasks of looking after the site and preparing the growing beds, tasks that require patience and good hand skills such as pricking out and potting on the seedlings.

4. PEOPLE experiencing mental health problems will benefit from £2,304 from the Charity Ball.

Friends of TWIGS applied for money to help develop their plant sales activity area, which sees people with mental health problems benefiting from the experience of growing and maintaining plants for sale.

Friends of Twigs is an independent charity which supports Therapeutic Work In Gardening Swindon.

Alan Holland, team leader of TWIGS, said: “The money from the Charity Ball will help us increase our plant sales production. We are hoping it could double the amount of plants we grow and sell here.

“Subsequently, it will double the amount of revenue from the sales to go back into the project and double the number of people we help.”

5. LIVES will be changed for the better thanks to money donated to Asthma Relief. The Charity Ball is awarding £1,600 to the charity, which supplies nebulisers free of charge to people with breathing difficulties.

The machines, which Asthma Relief also maintain, are used to help people with asthma, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder) emphysema, bronchitis, bronchiectasis and many other breathing problems. The charity, which was set up by Dave Penman in 1997, also runs a 24 hour helpline.

It supplies nebulisers to individuals, Great Western Hospital, the Prospect Hospice, Orchard Ward, COPD Ward, Seqol and the Outside Matrons. They also provide battery operated nebulisers that enable people with severe breathing problems to go on holiday.

The money will mean many patients can go home from hospital.

Asthma Relief charity consultant, Sue People, who is a volunteer, said: “Last year we bought 1,068 nebulisers in 12 months. Most of the donations we receive are from outside of Swindon and the donor usually specify which hospital or doctors surgery they want the nebulisers to go to. This money will mean some people can go home and for some people it means they can go on holiday.”

6. PEOPLE across the town are set to benefit from funds being given to Swindon Foodbank, which provides emergency food supplies to people in crisis. The £2,500 they are being given will mean they can increase their warehouse capacity and will also help them open at least one new distribution point.

Project manager David Hartridge said: “We are feeding between 20 and 30 per cent more people than the previous year. That means we need extra space in our warehouse to keep the food. Food comes in and goes out but we need space to store it. We also need boxes to store it in and transport it. This £2,500 will make a fantastic difference.”

Swindon Foodbank is looking to open a distribution point in West Swindon in the first half of this year.

7. GOOD causes across the town are celebrating after being chosen as beneficiaries of this year’s Charity Ball.

The annual event, organised by the Rotary Club of Swindon, the Adver and the Marriott Hotel, which is taking place on May 10, will raise money for Swindon Interactive Arts Service, Swindon Advocacy Movement, DASH, Friends of TWIGS, Asthma Relief and Swindon Foodbank.

But the biggest donation will be made to Thamesdown Hydrotherapy Pool Association, which is set to receive £10,000 to help pay for essential structural work, including a new suspended ceiling and roof insulation.

Charity Ball committee chairman, Tim Hanley, said: “There are some very good causes in the list of beneficiaries this year.

“We had 21 applications and it was a hard decision. We are pleased with the charities and good causes we have chosen.

“We are trying to raise £25,000 at this year’s Charity Ball, but if we can raise more that will be even better.”

Money raised at the Marriott Hotel on the night will make a huge difference for Thamesdown Hydrotherapy Pool, in Jefferies Avenue, Upper Stratton , which has about 700 visitors a week.

The pool is several degrees warmer than a normal swimming pool because many of its users are unable to move around as freely as more able-bodied swimmers and may get cold.

In August 2011, the association discovered a serious failure in the ventilation system, but after a successful bid for funds managed to raise more than £100,000 to fit a replacement.

Now it needs to make vital structural repairs to the damage caused by the faulty system, which is how they will spend their £10,000 share of the Charity Ball money.

Pool manager Neil Montgomery said: “It is fantastic news. This money will help us big time. We have set up a £50,000 appeal up to replace the ceilings in our changing rooms because although we had enough money to replace the ventilation, we still need to repair the damage.

“Without this money the changing rooms would deteriorate further and it would cost a lot more to do. I am sure the whole of the Thamesdown Hydrotherapy Pool Association will be as chuffed as I am.”

Last year’s Charity Ball raised about £20,000.

Tickets for this year’s Charity Ball are almost sold out. For more information visit http://www.swindoncharityball.co.uk/

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