The charity was named after the Roman Catholic national shrine, The Shrine of Our Lady at Walsingham, in the village of Walsingham in Norfolk.
Known as ‘England’s Nazareth’, Walsingham is a place of pilgrimage for Catholics from all over the world, and was where many of the meetings took place when the charity was in its inception.
Before long, Walsingham Community Homes’ original aims – to provide living facilities in the community for people with learning disabilities – had expanded and the charity had begun offering other support services. By the early 2000s, Walsingham Community Homes had brought innovation to the social care sector, by offering personalised support to suit each individual’s unique needs and circumstances.
To reflect this evolution, the charity officially became known as Walsingham in 2003, before evolving and becoming Walsingham Support in 2015.
Despite coming a long way from its humble beginnings, Walsingham Support is still very much a family concern.
Mark Snell is Honorary President, and Matthew’s elder brother, Paul, took over as Chief Executive in 2005.
Matthew is involved as well. He sits on participation and involvement groups as part of the personalisation team’s work to listen to what individuals with support needs want, to enable them to take a central role in their own care and to help shape the charity’s work.
Today, Matthew holds a tenancy on his one-bedroom flat just a few miles away from his parents’ home. He has support each week to help him live as independently as possible, some of which is provided by Walsingham Support. He has a part-time job in a garden centre and nursery, and enjoys swimming and going to his drama group.
The charity started out with the principle that everyone is equal, no matter what their ability. That principle still exists today – we still work to increase the quality of life and happiness of every person we support
Mark Snell, Matthew’s dad and Honorary President of Walsingham Support