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The Family Carer Support Service team. From L-R: Rhiannon Lawton, Kelly Jones, Emma Lewis

A donation left by a couple from Sidmouth is set to fund two more years of a vital service for those caring for people with learning disabilities.

The Family Carer Support Service, delivered by national learning disability charity Hft, offers free support to any family carer in England who has a relative with a learning disability or autism. Providing support to 350 families in 2019, the service aims to empower carers to exercise their rights and navigate statutory services, while also offering one-to-one support, email and letter correspondence, local workshops, and resources.

Thanks to a donation from Norman and Jean Morrison, whose son was supported by Hft for over 40 years until his death in 2017, this crucial support system will continue to provide guidance to families around the country.

As dedicated members of the charity, Norman and Jean were keen to leave a donation behind that would contribute to Hft’s efforts to support adults with learning disabilities to live the best life possible. When the pair passed away, they left a gift in their will to Hft’s charitable services, with the Family Carer Support Service subsequently selected for funding.

The donation is set to pay for the core costs of the service over the next 18 to 24 months – including three staff members who provide guidance and support for family carers, and information about subjects that affect them and their relatives. Funds will also contribute to the cost of running workshops and producing resources, as well as contributing to the running costs of the service’s free phone line, which receives over 300 enquiries per year. As part of their work, the team examine decision-making around funding to help ensure that care packages are assigned fairly, while also providing emotional and moral support to families along the way.

Kelly Jones, Family Carer Support Service Manager, said: “We all want the best for our family but, for relatives of people with learning disabilities who rely on statutory funding, there can be obstacles. Through our services, we aim to empower families and take away some of the isolation and loneliness that can come with being a carer. 

“We supported 350 families last year, and demand for this kind of service is only increasing – we’re now seeing an average of 25 new families coming to us per month. We’re funded solely by fundraised income, and it’s thanks to people like Mr and Mrs Morrison leaving gifts in their wills that we’ll be able to continue helping people to navigate the health and social care system.”

Hft currently supports more than 2,500 people with learning disabilities across the country.

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