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Understanding Learning Disability
UnderstandingLearning Disability

News and our Groups

Eastleigh Hot Shots - January 2020 Eastleigh Hot Shots - January 2020

Our aim... to protect and enhance the life chances of children and adults with learning disabilities living in Eastleigh and Romsey.

Our services are open to anyone with a learning disability who lives in the borough of Eastleigh or in Romsey, but before accessing any of our services, you do need to talk to someone to be sure they are appropriate for you.


Please call the office and leave your name and number. We will always call you back.


Our constitution limits the offer of our services to people with learning disabilities living in this geographical area. Much of our funding is raised locally for the benefit of local people with learning disabilities.



  • Vacancies, News items and Upcoming Events,
  • Links to our Services and Projects - much more about what we do, 
  • What's been happening - our recent activities, and 
  • Keeping you informed - information from Hampshire County Council and outside agencies



Plus, this year...

The Mayor's Charities Appeal 2019/2020 and the Volunteering Crew...Keep up to date with our Mayor's Charities Appeal 2010-2020 news page, including


Basketball Club Coach


We are looking for an enthusiastic and energetic coach for our Basketball Club, Hot Shots, for adults with learning disabilities. Full details can be found here:


Vacancy for Basketball Coach

More about Hot Shots...


Gardening Club Co-ordinator


Do you have a keen interest in all things horticultural? More importantly, do you have a passion for supporting adults with learning disabilities to help them gain new skills in an enjoyable and healthy environment?
We are looking for an energetic and creative Gardening Co-ordinator to support us with two gardening projects. Read on for full details ....


More about our Gardening Club...


The Volunteering Crew – JOIN US!

We are always looking for volunteers to help us with Coin Collections. We will be collecting donations throughout the spring, summer and early autumn outside ASDA, Waitrose, Tescos and Haskins Garden Centre.


Collecting is surprising fun! You get to stand with a friend, each holding a pot, some people give you their donation and might want a brief chat. Others do not! All you have to do is smile and say thank you. The funds raised will go towards the costs of our Clubs, so you are helping the work of our society. Contact Michelle if you would like to know the dates of our collections and to volunteer to join us. More about the Volunteering Crew...



I am sure you all know that I am retiring as Development Officer and this role is going to be filled by Gina Henderson, with a new job title – Operations Manager. We are pleased to welcome her to the society.




Gina - our new Operations Manager Gina - our new Operations Manager

Introducing Gina...


Hello, my name is Gina Henderson and I am the new Operations Manager for Eastleigh Borough and Romsey Mencap. I am so pleased that I was able to meet some of you at the Flagship Art Club and the Chill Out Club recently, you all made me feel very welcomed and it was a great way to start my new job.


I live in Winchester with my husband and my children, who are 5 and 1. We also have a black cat called Missy. Before I started working with Eastleigh Borough and Romsey Mencap, I worked at Countess Mountbatten Hospice in West End for 9 years. I have also worked for the British Red Cross and Marwell Zoo.


I am looking forward to meeting everyone and getting to know you all when we are allowed to meet together again in groups. While we are all apart, I will still be working to make sure we are ready for you all to return to the groups and clubs when they are open again. I will be working on new fundraising ideas too and ways that we can all stay in touch while we are not allowed to be together in person.


Until I am able to meet with you all again, I am setting up my contact telephone number and email address, so that you can get in touch with me when you need to and we will share this with you very soon.


Active Citizens visit New Arts Space at Gods House Tower

Gods House Tower, Southampton Gods House Tower, Southampton
Active Citizens visit New Arts space, Gods House Tower, Southampton Active Citizens visit New Arts space, Gods House Tower,

The Active Citizens Group visited the recently re-opened Gods House Tower in Southampton. The building has been refurbished and is a wonderful mix of history and art, with a great café.


We have been invited to set up a new project there. This is a really exciting initiative to make a relationship with ASPACE, which runs Gods House Tower. More news to follow.



Flagship Art Club Flagship Art Club

Flagship Art Club

​​Annual Exhibition 2020

Our Art Club members are looking forward to another busy year, they are holding their Annual Exhibition in May this year, on Saturday May 23 at the Hilldene Community Centre in West End from 12.00 noon.

Flagship Art Club Carnival 2020 logo Flagship Art Club Carnival 2020

Carnival Call - May and June


The theme of the West End Carnival in 2020 is “Great Britons”. Join us for our Carnival Project this year making carnival costumes at workshops with the Flagship Art Club.


People must be able to attend workshops on Thursdays in West End on May 21, June 4, 11 and 18 as well as walking with us in the Carnival Parade on Saturday, June 20.


Workshops are from 9.45 to 13.00 and cost only £6 per workshop. Bring your packed lunch. We provide hot drinks. Most participants travel together on the bus from Eastleigh Bus station and back again. There are limited places in this project so book up as soon as possible.


Please note we have advertised the date of the Carnival as June 13 previously – this is incorrect, please adjust your diaries!


Community Art Open Competition Community Art Open Competition

Community Art Open Competition 
My house, my garden
Anyone can enter


Entries on a postcard (15 cm x 10cm), in any medium: paint, pastels, colouring pencils, chalk, collage. You can show what you do in your house or garden, how your house or garden looks, how you feel about these spaces or it may be a complete fantasy.  We are just looking for brilliant original artwork, all postcards submitted will be displayed at the Hilldene Exhibition on May 23 and prizes will be awarded. 


Any medium accepted. Bring your entry along on the day or give to a member of our staff at one of the clubs you attend or post to our office, address at the end of the newsletter.

Confronting the looming crisis
New Forest MENCAP’s research project


Following on from the New Forest MENCAP event in November 2019 when the research by Professor Rachel Forrester-Jones of Bath University, entitled “Confronting a Looming Crisis – People with learning disabilities and/or autism and their carers getting older“ (

was launched, they are now pleased to offer an opportunity to progress many of the issues raised in the research with the open “Fixes and Solutions” meeting.


This meeting is for any parent or carer who is based in Hampshire and will take place on Friday, 20th March 2020 at the Totton and Eling Community Centre, in the Palm room between 2.00 pm and 5.00 pm.



The purpose of the meeting is to gather together information about what parents/carers want and need with regard to caring for an adult with learning disabilities.  The emphasis of the meeting is on older carers but anyone caring for an adult will be welcome.  This learning will inform the collective work in Hampshire and in the wider context as a partner organisation, as once New Forest MENCAP have heard from parents what they feel would work best, they will work to ensure that the ideas are promoted and, where possible, work to provide solutions and effect change.


Tickets are available here


The project focuses on the future care of people with learning disabilities when they no longer have parents or family to keep an overview of their care.


New Forest MENCAP and the authors have generously made the research available to anyone who wishes to read it online. Please use the link below.

Health Resources

Three links to interesting documents...

  1. Keeping Healthy
    National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) just published Themed review: Better health and care for all Health and care services for people with learning disabilities can be also found on:
  2. Screening
    Health screening leaflet for those supporting children and adults with LD (includes checks, vaccination and screening). This can be found on:
  3. LeDeR
    The third LeDeR annual report was published on 21 May 2019. It gave 12 recommendations based on the evidence from deaths notified to the programme between July 2016 and December 2018. This document sets out the government’s response to each recommendation, and provides an update on the actions identified in its response to the second annual LeDeR report published in 2018. The actions identified will help to address the inequality in life expectancy between people with learning disabilities and the wider population. Both long version and easy read available on this page

News from the Chill Out Club

Our pub venue is now offering food again on a Monday night! 

The menu offers delicious choices. Veggie dishes are £8+, Meat dishes £9+.

The pub is also offering a limited menu for Group A club members on their club nights, these cost £7.

Gardening Club


The Gardening Club will be restarting on Saturday morning, March 14 at 10.00am. We have spaces for new members who would like to spend some time outside, learning how to grow and care for plants. Some of our new enlarged raised beds do not have gardening members to work them yet! Why not come along and join us. This is a very sociable club!


Gardening Club allotment Gardening Club allotment

The benefits of being a gardener are many – this is a great chance to learn about plants – flowers, herbs, vegetables and fruit. You also get to take home things you have grown. You spend time outside working and you will learn about the weather and the seasons.

You can get fit from digging or weeding, or at least increase your physical activity, and this can be good for you. You will get to meet a new bunch of people who share your interest in growing things and are generally friendly and pleased to see you.


The Club has an Open Morning where you can show your other friends and family what you do at the Gardening Club.

Maria is retiring from the Gardening Club!

We were pleased to welcome Maria Dowding back to the Gardening Club in December after a long period of illness. Unfortunately, she has now decided to retire from the Gardening Club and will be leaving us at the end of March. We are sorry to see her go.


We are currently recruiting a replacement Co-ordinator. Please pass on this information if you know anyone who might be interested in the role.


Growing Raised Beds

Correction to our October newsletter...
The working party who came to work at the Gardening Club allotments in early October were from Network Rail, based at Eastleigh Works. Not as stated in the October 2019 newsletter, from “Eastleigh Works”, who have hosted us in the past.

  • The Mayor's Appeal 2019-2020 Upcoming Events...
  • March 21 - Spitfires Band Concert at the Dovetail Centre
  • in Chandlers Ford - Tickets £8 from the One Community
  • March 22 – Sunday, Hendy Eastleigh 10K Road Race 
    Would you like to run for the Mayor of Eastleigh's Appeal
  • April 4 - Saturday, Tour of Eastleigh Works - tickets £10 from Eastleigh Museum

There are other events in the pipeline before the end of the Mayor’s Term in mid May, more news to follow.


Keep up to date with our Mayor's Charities Appeal news page, including... 

Fund Raising News...

Masons' cheque presentation Cheque presentation


Kind Donation from the Masons


The Society was very pleased to receive an invitation  to the Masons’  December Cheque Presentation Ceremony in Eastleigh.


We received a cheque for £200 given by the local Masons’ Lodge. This money will be used at once to support one of our services.

Chandlers Ford Charities Fayre 2019 Chandlers Ford Charities Fayre 2019, our stall!

Chandlers Ford Charities Fayre


Our stall at the Annual Charities Fayre in Chandlers Ford was the best ever. Elaine Fish worked with Jacqui and Peter Rowley selling donated gifts from our supporters. They reported large crowds and depleted stock at the end of the morning.

We are grateful to them for continuing to run the stall each year as well as promoting our society in Chandlers Ford. Thanks to our donors too who provide stock each year.


Green Token Scheme presentation, John Lewis Partnership Store Green Token Scheme presentation, John Lewis Partnership Store

Green Token Scheme - John Lewis

On November 28 we were invited to “The Place to Eat”, the café on the top floor in the John Lewis Partnership Store in West Quay, to receive a big cheque from their Community Matters Green Token scheme. As you can see it was a big cheque for a big amount! £600 is a really large donation for us, thank you John Lewis Partners for running such a great scheme to support local charities.

We are grateful to everyone who voted for us and for the nomination in the first place.  


New funding opportunities...

Please be aware that many local funders are reducing the amounts that they give or cutting out grants altogether, so we have to look for new funding opportunities all the time. Feel free to nominate us in supermarkets or elsewhere, if you value our services.


Many thanks...

Thank you to all our Committee, staff and volunteers for their fundraising efforts, whether they have been collecting for our society or for the Mayor’s Appeal, they have really put in the hours and we appreciate their commitment and enthusiasm. All of our fundraising is approached with a positive spirit!

Royal Mencap Society Planning for the future seminars

In the past we have advertised the annual seminars for parents and carers organised by Royal MENCAP society. The seminars are led by a local solicitor who outlines the importance of making a will and whether it is necessary to set up a trust for the person cared for, to ensure their financial future.


Leaving a vulnerable person a large sum of money or a valuable property could mean that they may have to pay for their own care, lose their benefits or be responsible for the upkeep of a property that they may struggle to manage.


This year there will be no seminar in Hampshire, there was a meeting in Southampton last year. We have pointed out that there is no seminar near us this year and that carers would have to travel to London, Bristol, Crawley, Guildford, Reading, Brighton or beyond. Hopefully there will be a meeting in Hampshire next year.


In the meantime, The Wills & Trusts Department at the Royal MENCAP Society can be contacted on 020 7696 6925 and they would be happy to answer your queries. 

Senior Wills & Trusts Officer is Laila Awda,

Future Caring Research and Action

New Forest MENCAP has recently commissioned a research project entitled “Looming crisis for older family carers of people with learning disabilities”. They hosted a launch event in Brockenhurst to promote the research which is of relevance to every carer of a person with a learning disability. The event was chaired by Baroness Jolly, the Lords Whip at the Department of Health and the research was completed by Rachel Forrester-Jones, Professor of Social Policy at the University of Bath. There was a lively discussion after the presentation with the panel, carers in the room and representatives from Adult Health & Care.

New Forest MENCAP will be organising a workshop for parents and carers to work on suggestions and fixes to current issues regarding local authority services and support. The outcomes will be presented to HCC, and any further information will be disseminated back.  In the meantime, if you have suggestions for doing things differently for your loved ones with learning disabilities, do contact:
Jackie Lillywhite, Development Officer, New Forest MENCAP  Tel: 01425 621893

Subscriptions up! Subscriptions up!

Subscriptions rising...


A review of our finances for the AGM has revealed that it is time we raised our subscriptions for different clubs.


Subs do not even begin to cover our costs in providing these clubs and services. We make up the shortfall by fundraising through writing grant applications, holding coin collections and other fundraising events. Our fees are significantly cheaper than many other organisations providing similar services.

  • The CHILLOUT CLUB will rise from £2.50 to £3.00
  • Flagship Art Club from £5.00 to £6.00
  • ACTIVE CITIZENS from £6.00 to £7.50
  • Eastleigh Hot Shots Basketball Club from £3.50 to £4.00

Gardening Club subs remains the same.


Society Diary Dates

  • June 13 Saturday - West End Carnival.
    Flagship Art Club and friends will be entering the Carnival again. If you wish to take part and join the club for this project in April and May, please leave a message at the office.
  • DAY IN THE PARK – Games & BBQ with our Grand Raffle
    Date – Saturday June 27 (to be confirmed)


Please call the office and leave your name and number if you have any questions about our events or anything else. We will always call you back.  Our Office number : 023 8048 3471

Eastleigh Hot Shots Basketball Club!

"A big Thank You to Magic Little Grants which has provided a grant to employ our basketball coach for one year. Magic Little Grants are administered by Localgiving and the Postcode Community Trust"


Michelle, May 2019

Waitrose Community Matters 
We have been chosen as one of three charities in the green token scheme this August at Leckford Farm Shop & Café.

Please vote for us with your green tokens if you go to the Water Gardens at Leckford this summer.

Hampshire Advocacy Services

Hampshire County Council, NHS England and the Hampshire Clinical Commissioning Groups commission a range of advocacy services for children and adults across Hampshire. The current contract ends on 31 March 2020. They are seeking feedback on these services to inform the Service Specification for the new contract to begin from 01 April 2020.


They are seeking feedback from:

  • People who have used advocacy services within Hampshire
  • Carers/family or friends of those who have used advocacy
  • Staff in partner agencies who have worked or are working with advocates supporting people using their services
  • Members of the public with an interest in advocacy services
  • Professionals with an interest in advocacy services

To have your say go to:


Hampshire County Council 
Balancing the Budget consultation – closes July 17


By April 2021 the Council expect an £80 million budget shortfall, it is asking residents what action they want taken: more cuts, increasing Council tax, introducing charges, putting pressure on Government…? 

Have your say:


Just when you thought austerity was over!

Here comes T21 (Transformation to 2021) – the latest round of savings from Hampshire County Council.

How much must be saved this time? More importantly, what will be left?

Orchard Close Respite Unit

Another reprieve and another Consultation
Following a previous public consultation on proposals to close one of the County Council’s respite services, Orchard Close, the decision has now been made to continue to run the service, while at the same time looking at other ways to reduce the overall running costs of providing respite support for adults in Hampshire.

HCC are proposing two ways to do this. These are by:

  • Reducing the number of beds at Orchard Close from 13 to 10. This would ensure that current users of the service would continue to have access to the respite support they need, while at the same time reducing the number of occasions that the respite beds were empty
  • Opening up the County Council’s three other adult respite services - Hindson House, Jacob’s Lodge and Newcroft - for use by other local authorities and the NHS.  While Hampshire County Council customers would be prioritised, any spare capacity would be used by key partner organisations, and we would charge them for the beds they use.

If adopted, these proposals could save the County Council an estimated £285,000 per year while enabling them to continue to operate a respite service at Orchard Close, as well as at Hindson House, Jacob’s Lodge and Newcroft.


The public consultation runs from Monday 16 Dec 2019 and closes at midnight on Sunday 9 Feb 2020.

People can take part by completing the response form online at
If you have any questions, please contact Lynne Sillince Tele: 01962 847267, or

We hope that the responses to this Second Consultation will be transmitted to the Councillors who make decisions about the future of Orchard Close. Had it not been for the users of Orchard Close and their carers, making a Deputation to the Council (at the eleventh hour) when the decision to close was being voted upon, the Unit would certainly have been closed down. Councillors said that they were not aware of the arguments for keeping the Unit open, even though many people had taken the time to respond at length to the first consultation.


Many people are jaded by consultations and feel that those who design them, never read them nor take notice of what is said in them.

Don’t let that stop you having your say!


Let us hope that this time the people who are called upon to make decisions about Orchard Close and its continued use by adults with Learning Disabilities, will be fully informed about different opinions and options suggested.


The pressure group that succeeded in changing the Council’s mind is to be transformed into a “Friends of Orchard Close” group. The unit’s continued existence is largely due to the energy and pressure exerted by this group of people.


The operation of Orchard Close is included within the T21 Council savings plan, that means it is secure until the end of 2021.

To read more about Orchard Close, visit our For your Information page...

Carers’ Group
West Hampshire Community Learning Disability Service (part of Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust) is setting up a Carers’ Group to help improve the service provided by the Health Service to adults with a learning disability in our area.


They wish to develop their service and understand the importance of hearing carers’ views. The group is for informal carers (family/legal guardians). If you are interested in being in the group or receiving their minutes or newsletter contact the facilitators: Rachel Johnson or Martin Johnson. Email:


Meetings for 2019

  • July 19 Friday 10-12 at Totton Hub, Totton
  • October 17 Thursday 10-12 at Hampshire House, Eastleigh.  


Our newsletter, Newsflash, contains information about local and national initiatives and about our activities. Click on the Newsletter tab to read previous newsletters.


Please visit the website regularly to read our latest news. If you have any comments on the content, or would like us to include something on the website, please do get in touch with Elaine Fish (Chair).

June 2020 - Download the latest newsletter here
Newsflash 141 - June 2020.pdf
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Phone: 07799 370043 Email: Registered Charity Number 263620 Affiliated to Royal MENCAP Society