Stuart’s got mail!

15th January 2021

Stuart attends our day service in Waterlooville, Hampshire and loves socialising, football, and most importantly – the news. After he sent a Christmas card to ITV news presenter Fred Dinenage, he didn’t expect to start his new year with a letter back from his favourite news presenter.

We spoke to senior support worker, Maria. She said: “Stuart lives in supported living and has been coming to our day service for a year. He loves the social aspect of the day service, he’s really enthusiastic and charming. He loves football and the news, and before Christmas we decided to design Christmas cards. We asked Stuart who he wanted to send his Christmas card to, and he said Fred Dinenage, the ITV news presenter.

“I thought ‘let’s give this a go’ and went online to find Fred’s fan mail address, and sent off the card to him, with some information about FitzRoy. When we came back after Christmas, I opened the letters we had received and couldn’t believe that Fred had written back! I called Stuart’s home straight away and let them know that a staff member was going to come and drop it off, when he came to the door he was absolutely beaming – he was so made up.

Fred had written him a personalised note and signed him a postcard too, it was so thoughtful and personal and it meant to world to Stuart that he took the time to write back and thank him for his Christmas card.

Since then, our day services have gone back into lockdown, but our resilient staff have adapted quickly to make sure the people we support still have the chance to take part in activities and socialising.

Maria said: “Because of lockdown, we’ve now had to close our day service and move onto Zoom activities. We have worked really hard to prepare a Zoom timetable that our members will enjoy, and so far it has been a complete success! We spent a lot of time personalising the Zoom packs for everyone, for instance Danielle loves Danger Mouse, so we cut out lots of pictures and stuck them to bingo cards for her.

“Our members have been adapting so well it has been a really brilliant surprise for us. We made sure to drop off Amazon Fire tablets for members who didn’t have tablets or iPads so everyone could join our sessions. Our Zoom classes really are a lifeline to our members, for many it is their only source of socialising.

“We have Zoom activities where we just have a cup of tea and a  catch up, and we have weekly welfare check ins where we call our members and catch up with them to make sure they are okay. Mental health can take a big knock during lockdown, so it is important for us to make sure we check in on each other.”