HAMPSHIRE TV personality Esther Rantzen is backing an attempt to help people with learning disabilities recover from the "mental trauma" caused by national lockdowns.

The Minstead Trust is one of charities that are hoping to benefit from the Big Give, a national fundraising week that begins on November 30.

Match funding provided by supporters of the Big Give means each donation to one of the participating charities is doubled.

Dame Esther visited the Trust to highlight the challenges facing people with learning disabilities as they try to rebuild their lives following the pandemic.

She was joined by a dozen people with visual representations of the hobbies and passions they are missing as a result of Covid.

"These activities are at the heart of happy, fulfilled lives and are often now not possible for people with learning disabilities," said a Trust spokesman.

"This has left many feeling more alone than before the pandemic, lacking the support, funding and confidence to be full members of their communities.

"The Minstead Trust is seeking to tackle this problem by raising £40,000 during the Big Give."

The money will help the charity re-establish its drop-in community groups, set up a welfare fund to cover the cost of holidays and social activities, and help people to rebuild the skills they need.

Dame Esther, who presented the long-running consumer rights show That's Life, is now living permanently in the New Forest after selling her London home.

Speaking after her visit to Minstead Lodge, near Lyndhurst, she said: "It's been quite moving to see how much people have missed their hobbies and passions.

"People supported by the Trust have had a really hard pandemic as many of the community activities they rely on have had to shut down.

"This appeal aims to raise the money needed to reinstate the projects and activities that people rely on."

A statement on the Trust's website refers to the "mental trauma" caused by lockdowns. It adds: "Mant people with learning disabilities are still feeling isolated and lost. You can help them rebuild their confidence."

To donate go online and visit minsteadtrust.org.uk/big-give.