Tuesday, 9 July 2019

California here we come!

IT'S all about California this week - not the land of the Beach Boys, oranges, LA and, rather more topically and worryingly, earthquakes - but a California a lot closer to home.

For this Friday, July 12, a garden party is being held outdoors at our centre for adults - California House - to mark the reopening of this revamped and extended vital facility situated in California Road in Kingstown, Carlisle.

An appeal was launched back in September 2017 and now, almost two years and £200,000 later, we are all set for Carlisle MP John Stevenson and our chairwoman Christine Bowditch to cut the ribbon on Friday to officially reopen the centre which can sleep up to five adult service users at a time.

Taking place between 12 midday and 3pm, the party will - weather permitting and as I write the forecast isn't too bad! - be held in the spruced up gardens at California House. Spruced up big-style last week thanks to the marvellous Give A Day To The City Week initiative which saw teams from Carlisle College - who last year took part in the same initiative but by doing up the gardens of our Grace Little Centre for children - and the Gillford Centre in Upperby, Carlisle, ably assisted by some of our staff and service users, building new summerhouses, painting fences, dredging the pond and planting flowers.

So a huge thank-you to those people involved and also to Cochranes Nurseries in Longtown who donated many colourful plants to the project!

First opened 23 years ago, California House provides respite care for adults. The purpose of the facility is to support guests who are having a short break from their family home, to enhance their independent living skills, and also their social and emotional skills. One of the main priorities is to support the client to become involved in community activities of their own choice.

Carlisle Mencap’s chief executive officer, Sheila Gregory, said: “California House is a vital facility, providing care for up to five adults at a time. This extension and refurbishment work means we can provide excellent, state-of-the-art facilities including a new sensory room with overhead projector and a fabulous kitchen/diner. We are very grateful to all those trusts, foundations, groups and businesses who helped fund this much-needed revamp and refurbishment. And we look forward to showing off the new-look California House on Friday.” 

Carlisle Mencap would like to thank the following for their financial support with regards the California House project: Bernard Sunley Charitable Foundation, Catherine Cookson Charitable Trust, Clothworkers Foundation, Cumbria County Council, Garfield Weston Foundation, Hadfield Trust, Key Fund, Newcastle Building Society and Wolfson Foundation.

Meanwhile, speaking of Give A Day To The City which I was earlier, Carlisle Mencap did their bit this year by helping in the transformation of the Portland Square area off Warwick Road in Carlisle.

Joining forces with others including teams from Cumberland Building Society, Trinity School and Carlisle City Council, team leader Rebecca Carey, member Bex Aitken and my good self donned the protective gloves and joined in the painting of the metal railings surrounding this garden area.

And this also leads us nicely on to hearty congratulations to Bex and our CEO Sheila who were nominated for The Cumberland News Community Heroes Awards. And, at the prestigious awards ceremony at Carlisle Racecourse last Thursday, Sheila won the coveted Person of the Year category while Bex was Specially Commended in the Volunteer of the Year category.

So we've been making the headlines for all the  right reasons recently and long may this continue - and let's hope we have some true California sunshine to beam down on us this Friday as we enjoy the garden party and reopening.


Monday, 3 June 2019

Learning Disability Week and a wonderful weekend

WE are busy at the moment. Well, a lot of my colleagues are very busy most days of the week in this job, looking after those hundreds of people up and down the county with a learning disability, and a fantastic job they do too! - but I am beavering away, for once, as we approach probably our busiest period of 2018/19.

Last week's blog mentioned the feast of fundraising we are preparing for the weekend of June 14-16, and I will recap on that later - because we still need people and volunteers to join in! - but first of all a look ahead to national Learning Disability Week which officially starts on Monday, June 17.

The theme of this year's UK-wide week is sport and inclusion. It is a well-known fact that sport and physical activities can help reduce loneliness and isolation, and improve the health and well-being of people with a learning disability, giving them a sense of greater social importance and empowerment. 

The hope is that putting on events which see mainstream and people with a learning disability playing and competing side by side will improve attitudes in the community and dispel negative views towards people with a learning disability.

With all that in mind, Carlisle Mencap has won funding from the Royal Mencap Society to stage a LDW Sports Day at the Harraby Cycle Circuit/Sports Campus in Edgehill Road, Carlisle, on Sunday June 23 between 11am and 3pm. And the good news is, the whole event is free!

It is aimed at getting mainstream people and those with disabilities of all ages to interact and take part in sporting activities together.
The event will feature a 'Mile For Mencap' challenge where people of all ages can walk, run or cycle round the superb recently-opened cycle circuit at Harraby, but we also hope to have gym demonstrations, football, and possibly other sports like boccia taking place.
Interested in getting involved? Well we would love you to play a part in this event and bring along any sporting equipment, bikes, balls, etc. Feel free to bring along a stand/gazebo, promotional material etc. Like I say - it is FREE!
So just get in touch with me if you want to take part of for more information. As always, my contact details are at the bottom. 

Meanwhile, in conjunction with People First at Milbourne Street, Carlisle, on Thursday, June 20, at midday, Carlisle Mencap have chosen the People First Conference Centre to host and showcase their award winning in-house films based around mate crime, hate crime and sexual exploitation as part of Learning Disability Week. The films were made at their in-house Independence Studio; which is a film-making facility at the Grace Little Centre for children. If you are in Carlisle that day and are free, please come along and watch the films. Some of the 'stars'  will also be in attendance to answer any questions on how the film was made and also how we can get involved in the future!  

Quick reminder too that Carlisle Mencap will be one of the organisations taking part on Thursday, June 6 in a Volunteer's Fair at Carlisle Library between 10am and 1pm to mark National Volunteers' Week. And we certainly could do with any volunteers out there happy to help us out during our forthcoming series of fundraising events!

And I also hope you lot out there have got your quiz teams together, are ready to listen to some classic rock live on stage, and are prepared to be amazed at the daredevils bungee jumping - all between Friday, June 14 to Sunday June 16. 

Here's a reminder...

FRIDAY JUNE 14: 7.30pm to 9.30pm:
QUIZ NIGHT: Cumbrian Cheesecake Company’s Café, Infirmary Road, Carlisle CA2  7AN
Thinking caps on for first of series of fundraising quizzes for Carlisle Mencap—a great way to kick off a special weekend and week! Teams of 2, 3 or 4. £2 per person. Call the café on 01228 558992 to book a table.
SATURDAY JUNE 15: 6.30pm to 11.30pm:
ARE YOU EXPERIENCED? The Brickyard, Fisher Street, Carlisle CA3 8RN 
Europe’s top Jimi Hendrix tribute band in  fundraising gig for Carlisle Mencap! Plus support from J Lewis. Tickets £10 (£1 booking fee) in advance from thebrickyardonline.com
SUNDAY JUNE 16: 11am to 5pm:
SPONSORED BUNGEE JUMPS/SUMMER FUN DAY:   Creighton RFC, Sycamore Lane, Carlisle CA1 3SR 
People of all ages raising money for Carlisle Mencap by jumping from 145ft crane! Plus lots of other attractions like  children’s
entertainment, stall and refreshments. £5/£2.50 admission.

For more details on any of the above, contact events & fundraising officer PHIL TAYLOR by email on phil.taylor@carlislemencap.co.uk or call 01228  674393


Tuesday, 21 May 2019

June will be just jumping!

IT'S fair to say that we here at Carlisle Mencap are praying for a flaming June!

If some of the weekend papers are to be believed, forecasters are predicting a sizzling summer for us here in the UK - well let's hope so, because we have a feast of fundraising fun lined up which we hope will help swell the coffers of Carlisle Mencap.

So this blog is, unashamedly, a rallying cry to all Carlisle Mencap trustees, members, staff, supporters, their family and friends, their work colleagues, their second removed cousin's window cleaner, the general public, the world's population, to get involved in any which way they can to help us make the coming month a roaring success!

The focal point will be the weekend of June 15-16. This mark's the climax of the charity's 50th anniversary celebrations. Hot on its heels will be national Learning Disability Week 2019 in which we are heavily involved.

So eyes down, and here we go on what's happening - and how you can help/get involved!

1: Date & time - FRIDAY, JUNE 14. 7.30pm-9.30pm
Venue: Cumbrian Cheesecake Company Cafe, Infirmary Road, Carlisle CA2 7AN
Event: Carlisle Mencap Quiz Night

Details: Get your teams of two, three, four or five together - it costs just £2 per person - for the first of what we hope will be a series of fundraising quizzes at the cafe. General knowledge quiz suitable for people aged 16 and over. Raffle prizes, delicious individual cheesecakes available, plus teas, coffees, soft and alcoholic drinks. To book a table, call the cheesecake cafe on 01228 558992.

2: Date & time - SATURDAY, JUNE 15. 6.30pm-11.30pm
Venue: The Brickyard, Fisher Street, Carlisle, CA3 8RN

Event: Are You Experienced? Jimi Hendrix tribute band gig. Plus support from J Lewis 
Details: We are thrilled to have Europe's top Jimi Hendrix tribute band playing a special gig for Carlisle Mencap at this popular venue. All the hits like Purple Haze, The Wind Cries Mary, All Along The Watchtower and many more. Great support too from Keswick-born J Lewis who has a wide range of influences from hip-hop to rock, folk to indie. Tickets available on the door but cheaper - £10 plus £1 booking fee - in advance from  thebrickyardonline.com If you can spare sometime to help with stewarding on the night, get in touch! Free admittance to the gig if you do!

3: Date & time - SUNDAY, JUNE 16. 11am-5pm
Venue: Creighton Rugby Club, Sycamore Lane, Carlisle CA1 3SR
Event: Sponsored Bungee Jumps/Summer Fun Day
Details: People of all ages - around 50 in total but there's still time to register! - wil be doing sponsored bungee jumps from a 145ft crane! There will also be the chance for people to do Cage Rides to the top of the crane - but without having to do the jump! Plus stalls, refreshments etc. Again, if you can spare sometime to help on the day of what promises to be a busy and memorable occasion, please get in touch. And if you, or you know of somebody, who would like to have a stand/table on the day, tell them to contact me NOW! Admission to the event will be £5 with £2.50 concessions, service users and support workers get in free.

4: Date & time - SUNDAY, JUNE 23. 11am-3pm
Venue: Harraby Cycle Circuit/Sports Campus, Edgehill Road, Carlisle CA1 3PP

Events: Learning Disability Week Sports Day
Details: Mainstream and disabled people of all ages getting together for a few hours of sporting activities and fun including a 'Mile For Mencap' challenge on foot or bike around the new cycle track at Harraby. There will also be gym demonstrations. Once again, any offers of help on the day to make this event run smoothly will be gratefully received.

So there we have it! And those are just the events we've got finalised - there maybe more to follow!

As always, for more information, if you'd like a stand at the fun day, if you'd like to do a bungee jump, if you'd like to volunteer with helping out at any of these events, if you want to take part in the sports day, get in touch we me - PHIL TAYLOR - at:
01228 674393 or 07341 865382 or email phil.taylor@carlislemencap.co.uk

* To enter the quiz, DON'T contact me - please call the cafe direct on 01228 558992.
* For tickets to The Brickyard concert - go to thebrickyardonline.com or seetickets.com

We look forward to people supporting these vital fundraising events - and they are sure to be a LOT of fun!




The Creighton Rugby Club

Wednesday, 15 May 2019

Volunteers make a huge difference

IT'S not just donations, sponsorship money and fundraising initiatives that can make a big difference to charities - people giving up their precious free time to volunteer are just as important.

We here at Carlisle Mencap are no different. We really do NEED volunteers to help us provide the increasing demand for support and services that more than 500 adults and children with learning disabilities and their families across Cumbria rely on us for.

For instance Number 1: One of the groups we run for young adults is the Orchid Club. It takes place at The Sands Centre, Carlisle's main sports and leisure venue, most Wednesday nights between 7.15pm and 8.30pm. Here, our service users can play sports like bowls and badminton, games like a giant Connect 4, and generally socialise and make friends. But we are running out of volunteers to help this popular group continue on a regular basis. It's just a couple of hours one night a week.

For instance Number 2: Drivers. We run clubs on Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays, and these often involve day trips and visits to places like museums, working farms, leisure centres. Our staff do a fantastic job driving our service users and team leaders around but they often have to carry out these duties in their spare time. So we are always on the lookout for people who have wheels - and time - to spare.

For instance Number 3: Spreading the word. Events, especially in the summer, are vital to a charity like ours. Yes, it is always a huge bonus if we manage to raise money from them as well, but it is just as important that we spread the word to people at large about the vital work we do and the services we offer. So spending a few hours on one of our stands at, say, the Dalston Show this coming August, handing out leaflets and running a tombola, is a big, big help. Coming up in June we have a bumper weekend of events to mark the climax of our 50th anniversary celebration and to mark Learning Disabilities Week. More on this is my next blog but volunteers are needed to help make these events run smoothly - and they're a lot of fun too!

So, national Volunteers' Week is around the corner, June 1 to June 7 to be precise. A series of events up and down the country will highlight the value of volunteers to charities and the Third Sector.

Did you know? The estimated annual value of volunteers helping UK charities is £22.6bn

It seems obvious but the fact is the more volunteers that charities like Carlisle Mencap get coming forward, the more activities and trips they can organise for service users of all ages, and the more fundraising events they can stage to help pay for these trips, which bring so much enjoyment to our members.  

Did you know? ‘Wanting to do good’ is the most important reason to volunteer. In 2017/18, 46% of people said that they volunteer to improve things and help others

And let's face it - volunteering and helping others 'less fortunate than others' (I hate that phrase but it will do here in this context!) does bring about a real sense of well-being. You feel GOOD about yourself. And, especially with some of our fundraising events and trips, you have a great time into the bargain and make new friends and - who knows? - future partners? 

Did you know? In 2017/18, 20.1 million (38%) people in the UK volunteered formally at least once a year and 11.8 million (22%) of people did so at least once a month 

We are lucky in Carlisle that, thanks to Carlisle Vineyard Church and Carlisle Ambassadors, we have the fabulous Give A Day To The City initiative.  Give A Day To The City week is the first week in July so again, I will be plugging this more in my blog as the time approaches, but safe to say that this initiative, in which groups of workplace colleagues give up a day to go and help a community project like landscaping a garden or building a play area, is a fantastic example of the good volunteering can do to the wider community.

So what are you waiting for? If you YOU would like to volunteer and help Carlisle Mencap, then get in touch. To volunteer at fundraising events, contact me, PHIL TAYLOR, on 07341 865382 or email phil.taylor@carlislemencap.co.uk and for other volunteering opportunities call 01228 674393 or email enquiries@carlislemencap.co.uk 

And remember - volunteering opportunities with us will fit in with whatever time you can spare.

#giveadaytothecity #VolunteersWeek

Wednesday, 1 May 2019

Here's £30 - make it grow!

WE would like to give you £30. Yes, Carlisle Mencap is willing to hand over thirty smackers to you and your colleagues.

Well of course there's a catch. But it is a nice one. And it is called the £30 Accumulator Challenge and what it basically means is we give you £30 to start off with - and you come back to us with a big, fat healthy profit. We hope!

Carlisle Mencap is urging teams of chums from work, organisations, gyms, pubs, clubs whatever, to get together and help raise vital funds for the 500 adults and children with learning disabilities that our charity provides across Cumbria.

But you are going to have a lot of fun in the process and test your entrepreneurial skills as we challenge you to turn that £30 into as big a figure as possible by DECEMBER 31 2019!

In my last blog we looked at the weird and wonderful ways and challenges that people around the world come up with to raise funds - worm charming, remember? - for good causes, so now's YOUR chance to do just that!

Your team can be as creative as it likes, so long as the fundraising idea is morally sound and legal. If it fits that criteria, then anything goes.

And of course, whatever schemes you come up with to help boost your £30 to - well, £50, £100, £300, £500, who knows? - we will give you advice and support. Your efforts (and therefore your company/organisation) will be given lots of publicity across our website and social media sites, as well as coverage in the local media.

And the winning team which makes the most money will win fabulous prizes!

So what are you waiting for? Get in touch with me NOW at phil.taylor@carlislemencap.co.uk or call 01228 674393 to register your team and how you can pick up your starting sum of £30.

Once we have several teams, I also plan to host a fun quiz night where you and your colleagues take part against the other fundraising teams and the winner receives a sum of dosh to add to their £30 challenge total.

Speaking of quizzes...Carlisle Mencap has teamed up with the Cumbrian Cheesecake Company to host a series of quiz nights at the company's cafe in Infirmary Road, Carlisle.
The first one is coming up soon, on Friday May 10, starting at 7.30pm. For teams of three, four or five, it costs £2 per person. There will also be a raffle. For more details see poster at the end of this blog but you must reserve a table in advance by calling the cafe on 01228 5598992. 

Finally, a big thank-you to everyone who turned up to Carlisle Mencap's Open Day & Business Breakfast at the Grace Little Centre in north Carlisle on Wednesday, May 1. Special mention too to our guest speakers, Andy Beeforth OBE, chief executive of Cumbria Community Foundation, and Colin Glover, leader of Carlisle City Council. John Watt & Co kindly provided the excellent coffee and teas and members of the Carlisle Mencap team did a grand job serving up bacon butties and veggie options!

#Lakescheesecake #carlislecitycouncil #cartmellshepherd #jelf #nxtrecruitment #kingmoorparkproperties #cumbriacommunityfoundation

Thursday, 18 April 2019

Worm charming anyone?

NOW we here at Carlisle Mencap are always grateful to people who raise money for us by doing sponsored walks, abseiling down Carlisle Civic Centre, sponsored skydives, the London Marathon etc. But have you ever thought about a sponsored worm charm, auction of kisses, or wearing the same dress for a year?

As long as it is in the best possible taste, we don't mind how you go about raising funds for the vital work that our charity does. And by the way, those bizarre ideas in the opening paragraph have actually taken place.

Before we have a bit of Easter holiday fun by looking back at some of the most crazy fundraising stunts ever to take place for a good cause, I just want to plug the fact that we still have FOUR out of six places available for the Great North Run in September.

So fancy taking part in the world's greatest half marathon? Then we would love to hear from you! Taking place on Sunday, September 8, in Newcastle upon Tyne, the Great North Run is a spectacular event - and Carlisle Mencap has been lucky enough to bag six places. Four of these are still up for grabs, so if you fancy pitting your running skills against thousands of others including some of the world's top runners, then we'd love to hear from you.

We pay your £80 entry fee/package but runners most raise a minimum of £300 in sponsorship. So why not give it a go? Get in touch with me, Phil Taylor, on 01228 674393 or email me at phil.taylor@carlislemencap.co.uk

Anyway, back to the worm charming...actually, I'll come to that later. Firstly, same dress for a year. That was started back in 2009 by Sheena Mathekin who raised hundreds of thousands of pounds by wearing the same dress for a year. The money went to the Akanksha Foundation that provides education facilities in rural India. She then started the Uniform Project which involves women wearing the same item of clothing for 365 days. 

Charlize Theron hit the headlines when she 'raffled' a 20-second kiss and promptly raised $140,000 for the OneXOne charity that helps improve the lives of children around the globe.

As this is a family-friendly blog, we will mention but will quickly pass on from naked cycling and lap dancing for the needy - again, these HAVE been done in the name of a good cause! - as we finally come to worm charming.

According to the Gone For Good 10 Crazy Things People Do For Charity web page, in a sponsored worm charming event, a piece of land is divided into equal-sized plots or squares. The plots are sold to contestants who are then challenged to 'charm' as many worms as possible to the surface in 30 minutes.

Singing, jumping and 'banging on a fork' (!) are just some of the ways that people have tried to charm the worms - which are extremely sensitive to sound (well wouldn't we all be with that commotion carrying on just centimetres above our heads!) and rise to the surface when stimulated by noise and movement.

The contestant who charms the most worms wins, and amazingly, the record stands at 567 worms! And did you know that the village of Willaston in Cheshire hosts the yearly World Worm Charming Championships which attracts competitors from all over the planet?  Surprised Sky hasn't bought the rights!  I wonder what the collective noun is for a group of worm charmers? A 'Wriggle', perhaps, or maybe a 'Squirm of Worm Charmers' - I like that one...

So there we have it. Feeling inspired now are we? If you've any weird and wacky ways or ideas of raising money for Carlisle Mencap, please do let me know. Or if you want to raise cash in more conventional ways - we'd still love to hear from you!

Give it some thought and while you do have a fabulous Easter!

Tuesday, 9 April 2019

Make it your business

MENCAPTIVATE is back in business after a short break - and that's appropriate because 'business' is the theme of this blog. And how we can work together!

Carlisle Mencap is based on the Kingmoor Park North Industrial Estate and the estate's owners, Kingmoor Park Properties, are good supporters of our charity. For instance, this June they are helping to sponsor our main event - the Sponsored Bungee Jumps and Summer Fun Day at Creighton Rugby Club in Sycamore Lane, Carlisle, on Sunday June 16 (this promises to be a fabulous fundraising day - and I'm sorry, I'll be banging on about it quite a lot between now and June 16 - that and the Hendrix tribute gig the night before!) which marks the climax of our 50th anniversary celebrations.

Like every charity, Carlisle Mencap relies on the goodwill of donations from individuals, organisations and companies. Like every charity, we could always do with more. 

But it shouldn't just be one-way traffic - and this is one of the reasons why we have decided to hold an Open Day and Business Breakfast at our Grace Little Centre for Children on Wednesday, May 1.

And we're thrilled that on the day we will have two well-known local figures as guest speakers -  Andy Beeforth, chief executive of Cumbria Community Foundation, and Colin Glover, the leader of Carlisle City Council. They will give talks along with our own CEO, Sheila Gregory.

Although targeted at companies and organisations in the Kingmoor/Kingstown area of Carlisle, all companies and organisations in Cumbria are invited to send a representative.

Let's hope they do, because we feel that this would be a great opportunity to discuss ways of how businesses and charities can work together for the benefit of the wider community and how philanthropic ideas and gestures can be a real boon to firms and to good causes. 

It is important that the corporate sector and the Third Sector can work together to boost the local economy, even in the current climate of austerity and Brexit uncertainty. In fact, perhaps because of that it makes it even more relevant. And the kudos and good publicity that companies get from helping charities and the community in general will always raise a firm's profile and, potentially, boost their sales.

The open day is from 8.30am to 10.30am and as well as our guest speakers there will also be a chance for guests to see first-hand the fantastic facilities at the charity’s Grace Little Centre for children.

The event is free and there will be free teas and coffees courtesy of John Watt & Co, and free bacon rolls and vegetarian options.

If you would like to attend the open day, please call me, Phil Taylor,  on 01228 674393 or email phil.taylor@carlislemencap.co.uk no later than Wednesday, April 24.

To pinch the slogan of a well-known supermarket chain, "every little helps" when it comes to companies and groups helping charities like ourselves.

Certain companies are fantastic at getting in touch with us each year and sending us vouchers, gift cards, money-off offers etc for us to use as raffle/tombola prizes at our events or events that we are invited to take part in with a stand. Even a bottle of wine or a box of chocolates are gratefully received here in the office at Carlisle Mencap - and by that I mean as prizes, NOT for the staff to scoff and guzzle!

For instance, last year Booths Supermarket in Penrith very kindly donated a luxury hamper to be raffled off at our Christmas Fair, while McVitie's in Carlisle gave us a big selection of their biscuit products which was eagerly snapped up at a raffle during one of our discos.

So if, dear reader, you work for a company that hasn't given much thought to helping charities, through sponsorship or donations, and would like to do so - get them to send someone to our business breakfast on May 1. And, or as well as, get them to give me a call (see above for contact details) on how they can get involved in helping and supporting Carlisle Mencap's vital work.

#linkedin #philanthropy #booths #mcvitie's

California here we come!

IT'S all about California this week - not the land of the Beach Boys, oranges, LA and, rather more topically and worryingly, earthqua...