A charity worker from County Durham who has been supporting people with learning disabilities to stay connected during the pandemic has taken on a lockdown challenge to raise funds for the friendship and dating service where she works.
Sacha Samms is a project development worker for Luv2meetU, a friendship and dating agency for adults with learning disabilities or autism, run by national charity Hft. To raise money for the cause, the 38 year old walked the equivalent distance of a trek up Mount Everest over the course of three weeks. She was inspired to take on the 40 mile challenge by the people she has been supporting to stay connected over the course of the pandemic.
After starting out her career as a social worker, Sacha joined Luv2meetU four years ago after looking for an opportunity to directly make a difference in her community. Before the pandemic, Sacha’s work revolved around helping people to socialise and chaperoning dates, and included activities such as bowling and visits to cafes, to day trips to Edinburgh. Since the pandemic forced face to face meetings to be temporarily suspended, Sacha has been supporting people virtually as part of the service’s programme of online events, designed to combat the risk of loneliness and isolation. For Sacha, this has included hosting crafts, games and activities including a Sunday Brunch Lego group, and a weekly craft morning, as well as regular check in chats.
During her 24 day challenge, Sacha has trekked nearly 40 miles around her local area, accompanied by her dog, Mitchy. With an app linked to Google street view guiding her on her journey, the charity worker virtually passed the villages of Tok Tok and Benkar, until she reached Everest’s virtual summit last week.
After raising nearly £200, Sacha plans for funds to go towards supporting members on low incomes to access Luv2meetU services in the north. Members currently pay a small annual membership fee, and Sacha hopes to subsidise this with her fundraised income, to ensure even more adults with learning disabilities are able to extend their social networks and improve their health and wellbeing.
“I’m delighted to have raised money for a cause that I feel so passionately about. There are so many things I love about my job and I feel blessed to be a part of such a unique project. The pandemic has been really difficult for our members, and for some we are their only connection to the outside world at the moment. Keeping people motivated, engaged and smiling is so important and we’ve seen some really lovely relationships blossom, even during the pandemic. I’m hoping that the funds I raise during this challenge will help to make life a little brighter for even more people with learning disabilities.”
Emma Macdonald, Sports and Challenge Events Manager at Hft, said:
“We couldn’t be prouder of Sacha’s efforts to raise funds for a service which is particularly important at this moment in time. Not only does Sacha spend her days helping people to stay connected, but her fundraising efforts will mean Luv2meetU is able to support even more members through a challenging time.”
To donate to Sacha’s challenge, visit her fundraising page: https://www.gofundme.com/f/climb-mount-everest-for-l2mu
Notes to editors
For further information please call our media enquiries line on 0117 906 1697.
Hft is a national charity supporting more than 2,500 adults with learning disabilities across England and Wales to live the best life possible. Established in 1962, the charity uses its own unique Fusion Model to consistently deliver high quality, person-centred support across all its services.
Services range from supported living to residential care – from a few hours a week to 24 hours a day. Hft also helps people with learning disabilities to take part in daily activities, make friends and develop relationships and to find work.
For more information about Hft, please visit www.hft.org.uk
Information about learning disabilities
A learning disability can be mild, moderate, severe or profound and is defined as having a reduced ability to:
- Understand new or complex information
- Learn new skills
- Live independently
For more information about learning disabilities, please visit www.hft.org.uk/resources-and-guidance