Thanks for all your support in helping us raise the funds to build The Willows

The Lifetime Appeal has reached its goal – thank you so much for you kind support and generous donations. The Willows, a state-of-the-art home for people with severe autism, was officially opened by HM Lord-Lieutenant of Merseyside, Dame Lorna Muirhead DBE, on World Autism Awareness Day, 2 April 2015.

Thousands of people across Merseyside contributed to the Lifetime Appeal which raised funds for The Willows. Events included a celebrity Antiques Roadshow, miniature and full-scale golf tournaments, a Santa pub crawl, a Big Quiz, cake sales, bike rides and celebrity lunches. A personal donation of £50,000 was made by a local business woman. Former Liverpool FC manager Rafa Benitez and his wife Montse arranged several fundraising events through their Montse Benitez Foundation.

The Willows will be a home for life for eight people. It incorporates many features designed to create a calm, nurturing environment.

  • ‘Mood’ lighting can be used to ‘paint’ rooms different colours and help calm or stimulate a resident. Pink and purple have been found to be positive colours and grey to be calming, although all people respond differently.
  • Curved, wide corridors reduce claustrophobia and crowding. And to prevent echoing in the main corridor, the ceiling height has been reduced at one end.
  • Under-floor heating and integrated window blinds will help prevent damage by residents and also mean that light and temperature can be minutely adjusted. This is important as autistic people can be extremely sensitive to light and heat.
  • Easy access is offered to open air and the grounds, which are in a rural setting. This will help residents control anxiety levels.
  • Carers will help residents learn to use the modern laundry and kitchen facilities, encouraging them to develop a sense of independence.