Anyway - let's cut to the quick. Carlisle Mencap. Who, why, what, whom, when and, as we're in Cumbria, eh? Read the following, digest, have a breather, go make a cup of coffee, come back, drink said cup of coffee, and await further instructions...
CARLISLE MENCAP – WHO WE ARE AND WHAT WE DO!
'We are a local charity set up in 1968 and we have over 150 members and provide services for more than 500 people with learning disabilities and their families across Cumbria. Our services include short breaks for adults at California House and for Children at the Grace Little Centre, children’s home based respite, community support, young people’s clubs and holidays, family support workers for young people with autism, holidays, leisure activities and befriending. We also have respite centres for children in Penrith and Ulverston, plus autism help groups in Kendal and Workington.
We are locally managed and funded, not a branch of the national organisation - although we do work closely with them on many of our projects. We are the fourth biggest Mencap group in the UK. We are a membership organisation and have over 150 members made up of people with learning disabilities, carers and other interested parties.
We believe everyone with a learning disability has an equal right to choice, opportunity and respect, with the support they need.
Carlisle Mencap has been right at the forefront of EPAtS – Early Positive Approaches to Support – which has the full support of the NHS and is set to be rolled out nationwide.
EPAtS sees parents of children, aged from a few weeks to five, come together in a group with trained tutors to learn practical strategies over a period of seven or eight weeks to help them with their child’s development and identify their needs.
Carlisle Mencap’s Grace Little Centre at Kingmoor Park, Carlisle, has been the venue for this pioneering scheme which followed a seven-year study that went into the E-PAtS programme by the universities of Kent and Warwick along with the Challenging Behaviour Foundation and Cerebra, the charity for brain-injured children. The only other areas taking part in the pilot scheme are Barnet in north London and Belfast.
Other high-profile partners include the Daily Mirror, Kiss FM, Take A Break, Closer and Bella magazines, and the Jewish News.
Carlisle Mencap prides itself on being at the forefront of tackling hate crime. In March this year, Cumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner Peter McCall joined Carlisle Mencap and representatives from the Home Office at Tullie House in Carlisle for the launch of Take Control, a film about hate crime, funded by the Home Office. The Independence Studio at the charity’s Grace Little Centre in north Carlisle came up with the film with the help of Cumbria Constabulary. This year the same studio also produced another DVD on ‘Mate Crime’, funded by the Police and Crime Commissioner. (Mate Crime is when criminals ‘befriend’ vulnerable people in order to exploit them financially or sexually).
Our main fundraising mission this special year is to raise a further £65,000 needed to pay for the extension and revamp work at California House in north Carlisle.'
And that last bit is where I come in, I suppose. Well, I am the events & fundraising officer after all. I also do other things as well - we're a closely-knit, multi-tasking team up here in the wilds of north Carlisle on the Kingmoor Park North industrial estate - including contacting the press about the myriad of crazy, wonderful wacky things we're up to, and hopefully using my expertise as a journalist of more years than I care to remember to successfully get our activities and - more importantly - our message across to a wider audience.
Phew, this is turning into not so much a blog as a rival to 'War And Peace' length-wise. So before your eyes start to glaze over, and plus the fact I've just had a sneezing fit which probably means a cold coming on which probably stems for the other fact I was stood in the wind and rain of Harraby (a district of Carlisle, for all you non-Carlislelians (?!) yesterday as I looked after our stand at the opening of the new, very smart cycle circuit there, for several hours, I am going to wind up this opening blog with the vow to return very soon to talk more about fundraising for this very well-worth charity. Thank you for your time and patience - and stamina?
In the meantime, find out more about Carlisle Mencap at www.carlislemencap.co.uk (website) @carlislemencap (Twitter) and on Facebook athttps://en-gb.facebook.com/mencapcarlisle/