Grant award a welcome boost for local charity

Photo of staff celebrating the grant award.
Physiotherapy assistant Louise Hadley (left) and physiotherapist Carman Cristea celebrate the grant award.

The Brightwell in Bradley Stoke, has had some very good news that’s sure to brighten the day of their 350 members. The charity has been awarded a grant of £57,548 from the government’s Coronavirus Community Support Fund.

The fund was created for charities, like The Brightwell, after the massive shortfall in funding caused by the pandemic.

The Brightwell offers oxygen therapy, physiotherapy, clinics, advice and support for those living with long-term chronic conditions such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, stroke and fibromyalgia, and it is an invaluable lifeline. Recently it has also begun to see people with ‘long Covid’, symptoms of which include fatigue, brain-fog, breathlessness. These are often helped enormously by oxygen therapy.

Paul Spaven, chair of trustees, said:

“The Brightwell is a hidden gem, doing so much, for so many, while receiving no statutory funding to help with annual running costs of over £300,000. This grant really is a lifesaver. As lockdown began, the centre closed until full safety procedures could be introduced and it’s a credit to the team that of the 60 similar centres across the UK, The Brightwell was one of the first to reopen its doors.”

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Centre manager Doro Pasantes added:

“Our aim has always been to help people stay independent, mobile and active for as long as possible. Now that the NHS is under increasing pressure it is vitally important we continue doing just that, keeping people well, keeping them safe and out of hospital. This grant not only helps the centre, it helps our local community; the knock-on benefits are huge.”

During lockdown the team rallied to make sure the members weren’t left in isolation. A virtual community began where daily physical challenges and exercises were held, every week there was a different social get-together, sometimes a tea party or a quiz and, occasionally, a puzzle to solve. There was even a virtual pet parade. Weekly exercise classes on Zoom proved so popular that the classes have continued so that those who are still isolating are involved. For those without internet, especially the more vulnerable members, the team kept in touch by phone. This has been such an important step-change in services, as social isolation and deteriorating mental health is a terrible reality for many with long-term illness.

The Brightwell had planned a packed calendar of fundraising events over 2020, including the celebration of the centre’s 35th anniversary but, sadly, that couldn’t happen. However, with re-ignited enthusiasm, the team have pulled together with an amazing offering of online opportunities to get behind, like the Brightwell Bazaar, a virtual Christmas market, Christmas card sales and the Brightwell Bonus Ball Bingo.

The centre is open five days a week. Social distancing and strict protocols mean that things are a little different, but thanks to the grant the team are back to doing what they love; helping people with neurological conditions live their best lives.

To find out more, or to donate, visit www.thebrightwell.org.uk

This article originally appeared in the November/December 2020 issue of the Bradley Stoke Journal magazine (on page 33). The magazine is delivered FREE, nine times a year, to ALL 8,700 homes in Bradley Stoke. Phone 01454 300 400 to enquire about advertising or leaflet insertion.

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