18th March 2024 | News in your area

The Brigitte Trust celebrates its 40th anniversary

Surrey charity The Brigitte Trust has provided 40 years of emotional, practical, and social support to people living with a life-limiting illness.

Founded in 1984 by Dorking resident Brigitte Watkin, The Brigitte Trust has grown from the attic of a local cinema in Dorking into a team of over 100 volunteers and staff, and currently supports over 400 clients in Surrey each year. Over the last 40 years the Trust has supported approximately 10,000 individuals and their families.

Initially only covering Dorking and surrounding villages, the Trust has since grown and developed and now covers the whole of Surrey. The Trust recruits and trains volunteers who then visit someone with a terminal illness such as cancer, a neurological condition or organ failure for up to 3 hours each week. The same volunteer visits every time and provides vital practical help, emotional, and social support. This could include shopping, collecting medication, accompanying people to medical appointments, helping change the bed, going for coffee and cake, or simply listening to somebody’s worries and fears. The Trust works closely with health and social care professionals in hospitals, hospices and community services and complements their clinical work.

If you’d like to read more about the history of The Brigitte Trust, you can visit their 40th anniversary webpage; www.brigittetrust.org/40-years. To mark this anniversary, the Trust has an online seminar on 8th May (during Dying Matters week) hosted by the inspiring Dr Kathryn Mannix. There will also be a Garden Party on 21st July at Juniper Hall, and running throughout the year is a campaign urging supporters to “Give £40 to celebrate 40 years.” More details can be found on the webpage.

Charity Manager Lucy Beach says ‘I am so proud to be part of The Brigitte Trust and the work that we do and the difference we make to people and their families at a most difficult time. I hope that Brigitte Watkin would be proud of what we have achieved. A 40th anniversary is a significant milestone to reach for any organisation, let alone a small charity like us- here’s to the next 40 years! I am looking forward to our garden party and hope many of you can join us there, and get involved in our “£40 to celebrate 40 years” campaign– what 40 things will you be doing?’

In recent years, the trust has expanded its portfolio of services. Bereavement Support Groups are run across the county. A monthly Neurological Support Group takes place on Zoom, as well as Death Cafes in varied locations such as libraries, Coffin Club Surrey, and Pets as Therapy visits. A Wellbeing at Home Service and a Jigsaw library have been recently launched, and an End-of-Life Planning Service is coming soon.

All the Trust’s services are free, but they do rely on donations and fundraising to provide these services across Surrey. The Trust is always seeking new volunteers; if you would like gift your time to support people with a life limiting illness, please get in touch.

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