The Countess of Wessex Visits Two Leading Surrey Charities

Her Royal Highness The Countess of Wessex visited two Surrey based adult disability charities on Tuesday 2nd November in order to thank them for their hard work and outstanding services during the pandemic. Godalming High Street’s ‘Changing Perceptions’ (a social enterprise from the specialist epilepsy and disability care home The Meath Epilepsy Charity) and the Guildford based day service for young people with learning disabilities ‘the halow project’ were thrilled to welcome The Countess, and to demonstrate how their work is so important for the people they support.

halow is a Guildford based charity that puts young adults with a learning disability in the driving seat, supporting more than 200 young people to live independent, meaningful lives and to be more involved in their local community. The charity was founded by the parents of 5 young people with a learning disability in 2006, as they felt that what was available to their children was not going to maximise their potential.

The Countess took part in a ‘Building Futures’ session focusing on individual future planning and joined in with designing a personal ‘shield’ that displayed what was important to her. She then moved on to turn her hand to a practical session on basic self-defence, setting such an excellent example to the young people in the session. 

halow’s services include the ‘Building Futures’ and ‘A Reason To Get Up’ programmes, two innovative community based options that seek to nurture the independence, enrich the lives, and continue the education of each young person. Their flagship educational programme ‘Building Futures’ is a finalist in the national ‘Children and Young People Now’ awards 2021. During the COVID-19 pandemic both programmes adapted with no break in service to online delivery, free counselling sessions to those that needed it, and getting back to face to face sessions, often outside, as soon as it was safe enough to do so. 

Graham O’Connor, Director commented: “It is a great privilege to welcome Her Royal Highness The Countess of Wessex to halow. In our 15th year, for our young people to see her take part and understand what they do with halow has been hugely inspiring, and we cannot thank her enough for taking such a genuine interest in what we do”.

Changing Perceptions offers adults who are supported by The Meath Epilepsy Charity meaningful and enjoyable sessions in up-cycling furniture and creating homeware, in a sociable and commercial environment. The people supported by The Meath live with complex epilepsy and disabilities and they gain a great sense of pride, purpose and belonging through their work at Changing Perceptions and at The Meath’s dedicated Skills Centre.

All at Changing Perceptions and The Meath are thrilled that Her Royal Highness was able to meet some of the inspirational people they support and to experience their winning combination of social purpose, inclusivity, and environmental sustainability.

Changing Perceptions on Godalming’s High Street, offers an inclusive and friendly cafe, where customers can stop to chat to the group in the adjoining workshop while browsing the range of quirky up-cycled furniture and homeware. This very special visit enabled The Countess to meet with some of the people who are supported by The Meath at Changing Perceptions, support staff and volunteers. Having met with the team and rolled up her sleeves to join in with a furniture upcycling session with a group of Meath residents, The Countess helped to serve a delicious home-made lunch to residents, family members, staff and volunteers.

Lindsay Perryman, CEO commented “We are honoured that Her Royal Highness The Countess of Wessex was able to join us and are extremely grateful to her for her warmth and genuine interest in the work of the charity. We would be honoured to welcome The Countess to our main site at The Meath in the future so that she can see our residential services and other fantastic day services in action”.

These two very special Surrey based charities have collaborated in the past with groups from halow visiting Changing Perceptions to take part in workshop sessions. With restrictions having eased, both The Meath and halow hope to strengthen their ties and work together to best support local adults who live with disabilities to lead a fulfilled life.


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