More than 100 Valentine’s Day boxes were gifted to adults with learning disabilities and mental health conditions in Northamptonshire with an overwhelming response.

We were unable to host our hugely popular Valentine’s Ball this year due to lockdown, so instead delivered luxury gift boxes to service-users as an extra special surprise. Messages of thanks from parents and carers are still flooding in almost a week on.

18-year-old Martha McKeown, who has worked at Teamwork Trust as a volunteer and apprentice for two years, thought up the whole idea. She says it was a way to recognise our members for how well they have coped during COVID with our remote ‘Living & Learning’ programme. 

“Everything we do at Teamwork is about our service-users and giving them opportunities and experiences – we really can’t believe how well these boxes have been received,” said Martha – who led the project along with two other apprentices, Manav & Macy.

The trio spent weeks planning and sourcing petals, balloons, delicious cakes and bakes, gift items and themed activities to keep service-users busy and engaged at home. They then enlisted help from Teamwork Trust staff and volunteers to pack everything into ribbon-tied boxes and deliver them to service-users’ doorsteps county-wide.

Martha added: “Teamwork usually organises lots of themed events over the year so that everyone can dress up, socialise and have fun. Our Valentine’s Ball is definitely one of the highlights so when we realised that wasn’t going to be possible, we made every effort to come up with an alternative. We also hosted an online Valentine’s party with a heart-themed quiz and local entertainer, Mel Peake. 

“Service-users have been absolute superstars with the way they have adapted over the pandemic, so it was our way of saying ‘well done’. It was about spreading some love – making them feel extra special on top of our regular remote support services.”

Teamwork Trust’s remote programme has been praised by parents and carers since it began last March. With the three centres closed during lockdown, services are delivered through regular phone and video calls, online learning and quizzes, doorstep deliveries of activity packs and food parcels, and a digital support hub. Mobile phones and tablets have also been donated to those who do not have devices, so that they can stay in touch with staff and loved ones, and access online learning. 

Taking delivery of their Valentine’s gifts, one carer said: “Teamwork always go the extra mile to help their people feel supported at home, and these beautiful boxes show that. It makes for a really positive experience – what they do is just superb.” 

“I am over the moon with my Valentine balloon and the box. I feel so loved. I can’t stop smiling,” said Sally, a service-user at Teamwork’s Kettering centre.

Val, whose son, attends at Corby, said, “You made Steven very happy – it was such a lovely surprise and so thoughtful. Thank you for always being there for us.”

Kettering-based bakery, Lyla May Cakeaway, also donated cupcakes to be included among the gifts. Teamwork Trust’s three apprentices are now planning an Easter-themed surprise.

For more on Teamwork's remote 'Living & Learning' programme click HERE.