A HAMPSHIRE charity fighting for its survival has launched an emergency fundraising appeal in a bid to replace lost income.

Minstead Trust, which supports more than 200 people with learning difficulties, is facing a cash crisis following the coronavirus outbreak and the closure of public venues.

The closures are set to cost the trust a six-figure sum, which means it could fold within a few months without donations.

A spokesman said: "The crisis has also proved to be an enormous challenge for the wellbeing of people with learning disabilities and other additional needs as many find it difficult to take even the smallest changes to routine.

Daily Echo:

"The trust’s dedicated staff care team, at some risk to themselves, are doing what they can to support people emotionally as well as physically.

"Despite all the hard work, the crisis is proving to be an enormous financial challenge for the trust."

Facilities shut down under the new social distancing rules include Hanger Farm Arts Centre at Totton, Furzey Gardens and nearby Minstead Lodge, which is used for conferences and other events.

The spokesman said: "All were providing training and employment opportunities for people with learning disabilities but have had to close their doors, depriving the trust of crucial income."

The organisation's JustGiving page adds: "We know that everyone is having to deal with the unprecedented consequences of the coronavirus outbreak.

"We're doing all we can to reduce the impact, and seeking support mechanisms wherever they are available.

Daily Echo:

"But, if you are able to, please help us to come through this crisis; to meet the urgent costs we face now, continue providing care where it is needed, and help us to be there in six months' time, able to support people with learning disabilities to achieve their potential in the future."

The trust enables people to gain new skills, helping them to lead more independent and fulfilled lives.

Madeleine Durie, the organisation's chief executive, said: "Our staff team are still providing brilliant care to individuals and helping to keep routines as much as possible

"But I worry for the health and wellbeing of our staff team, I worry about the impact on the people we support and I worry about where the money will come from to help us stay open. Charities like ours are the fourth emergency service and society needs our help now more than ever."

To donate, go online and visit www.justgiving.com/campaign/minsteademergency.