Tuesday, 29 January 2019

Taking centre stage

ARE you doing anything this Friday night? Exactly! You are probably not as it is hardly the party night out season is it? But why not drag yourselves away from the Coronation Street double bill on the telly and get yourselves along to Carlisle Mencap's Got Talent.

Taking place at the Harraby Catholic Club (Edgehill Road, Carlisle, CA1 3PQ, for those who want to key in the SatNav!) on Friday February 1 from 6pm to 10pm, this is the first fundraising social event of 2019 for Carlisle Mencap and it is one where the service users are very much to the fore!

At the time of going to press, we had eight acts confirmed - so take a bow the following: LEON (dancer); NAOMI & MATTHEW (singing duo); PAUL (memory act); GEORGIA (singer); CLARE (singer); CAROLINE (singer); JORDAN (dancer/juggler) and AMBER & MARK (singing duo).

So competition is going to be fierce and our CEO Sheila, as head of judging, is going to have a few tough decisions to make on the night.

The night will be compered by Graham and our favourite DJ Damien will also be in attendance to keep the audience amused between the acts. 

The catholic club staff - who have once again kindly let us have the large entertainment room for free - will be manning the bar.

Admission - on the night only - is £5 for adults, £2.50 for under-16s and it's free for support workers. The admission price includes a buffet.

So come along and enjoy a fun night out. The service users taking part deserve immense credit for putting themselves forward to appear on stage and they'll really appreciate the support you can give them. 

Just a quick reminder that on Thursday, January 31 the draw for the Carlisle Mencap Festive Raffle takes place. The results will be available on our website at www.carlislemencap.co.uk and also on our Twitter and Facebook sites.

Tuesday, 22 January 2019

Have you a head for heights?

HERE at Carlisle Mencap we're really hoping that our fundraising takes off this year - literally.

In fact, let's hope the sky's the limit and and that we'll all be jumping for joy as the sponsorship money starts to wing its way into our head office and that our fundraisers will be full of bounce and enthusiasm. And that, I promise you, is the end of the pun fest!

We hope lots of people will do the London Marathons, the Total Warriors and the sponsored walks and cycles for us in 2019 as they have done in the past. But we have two special challenges lined up for those people with a head for heights.

The first challenge to have a definite date and venue fixed up is the Sponsored Bungee Jump, all set to take place on Sunday June 16 at Creighton Rugby Club, Carlisle.

So what does it involve? Well, the jumps - from a crane - vary from a height of 40 to 45 metres (that's 131ft to 147ft in old money) and each jump lasts about four minutes. Extreme Sensations, who operate the whole caboodle, have been organising these for the past 27 years with a 100 per cent safety record.

And who can do it? You must be at least 14, and 14, 15 and 16 year-olds must have a parent/guardian with them on the day. Those aged 65 and over must have a doctor's certificate but people as old as 89 have done a jump! There are no height or weight restrictions but pregnant women, people with breathing problems - ie asthmatics - people with back problems and those who smell strongly of drink - so lay off the brandies for Dutch courage! - will NOT be allowed to jump.

Feel free to do it in fancy dress, but be check carefully and please do not carry anything in your pockets. We don't an innocent bystander being clonked on the head by a free-falling mobile phone!

The bungee jumps will be the centre point of a day of family entertainment and fun at the rugby club so it promises to be a fantastic day out. And the more people who come forward to do a bungee jump, sponsored by family, friends and work colleagues, and setting up a JustGiving page as well if they like, the better it will be for Carlisle Mencap's coffers!

Don't fancy a bungee jump? Then how does a skydive grab you? And you will be grabbed, because the dives will be tandem ones as you team up with an experienced parachutist.

We haven't decided on a date yet for this challenge but it will take place from Flookburgh Airfield in the south of Cumbria under the expert instructions of Skydive Northwest. They do jumps from February to early November so we have quite a window of opportunity, although jumps only take place at weekends.

We hope to get at least 10 people - Carlisle Mencap members and the public - taking a leap of faith. The jumps are from 15,000ft and cost £230 per person. But if 10 or more do the tandem dives together on the same day, then Skydive Northwest knock £10 per person off the cost.

Those who do the jumps will be following in the footsteps (er, should that be slipstream?) of Imogen Dodd who, in 2016 when aged 16, did a tandem skydive for Carlisle Mencap - as a birthday treat! 

And I am using daredevil Imogen - who also did a sponsored abseil down the city's Civic Centre for Carlisle Mencap in 2014 - as my inspiration. 

Because of family illness, I won't be able to do my planned five-day trek along the Cumbrian Way from our Hart Street centre in Ulverston to our Grace Little Centre facility in north Carlisle in May as I'd planned.

So instead, I plan to be one of those jumping out thousands of feet above the beautiful Cumbria landscape - and I'm hoping some of my Carlisle Mencap colleagues will join me. 
Because I'm not afraid of falling from a great height - and that is despite the fact back in the mid-1980s I had the dubious distinction of being in a hot air balloon crash - I kid you not!

During my days as a sports reporter on the Oxford Mail I was invited to do a balloon flight. Taking off one Saturday afternoon from the centre of the Oxford Cheetahs speedway stadium, all went very well alongside experienced aeronaut (that's a balloon pilot, don't you know!) Roland until, after we'd just flown over a large wood at a height of about 400ft, he turned to me and said quietly: "Phil, do you smoke?".

At that point in my life I did. "Yes," I replied, "why? would you like a cigarette?" He replied: "Er no - I just wondered if you had a lighter so I could reignite the pilot light."
I cautiously looked up, and saw the great balloon envelope starting to fold in on itself. The pilot light had indeed gone out, due to a surge of air rising from the edge of the wood, and there was no flame coming from the huge bunsen burner type-thingy in the middle of our basket. And we were starting to lose height - rapidly.

Anyway, as we hurtled towards a railway line and a small reservoir alongside the track, we started to throw out used gas canisters and other equipment. About 100ft from terra firma, Roland managed to get the pilot light going again. We gained just enough height to clear the railway line and reservoir before making a very bumpy crash landing in a nearby cow field. We were dragged along for about 400 yards as Jerseys and Friesians scattered to all four corners of the said field, before we finally came to rest on our side in a ditch. 

"You okay?" asked Roland, as he crawled out from the overturned basket. "Never better," I replied, as I wiped a cowpat from my chest and lifted a gas canister off my legs. But remarkably, neither of us was hurt, bar a few scratches. And I have to say I would definitely do a balloon flight again - but perhaps with a slightly less bumpy and smelly landing next time. Because it was a great experience.

And I hope anyone reading this blog, who also fancies having a great experience while doing something for a very worthwhile cause, will seriously consider coming forward to do a sponsored bungee jump or a tandem skydive. Or both!

If you do, contact me at Carlisle Mencap on 01228 674393 or 07341 865382 or by email at phil.taylor@carlislemencap.co.uk 

For more details about Extreme Sensations' bungee jumps and Skydive Northwest parachute jumps, follow the links below:


Friday, 11 January 2019

Getting vital messages across

HERE at Carlisle Mencap we are gearing up for the launch of the latest film to come from our talented bunch at the Independence Studio.

The studio is based at our Grace Little Centre for children here at north Carlisle's Kingmoor Park and over recent years it has produced some excellent short films highlighting various issues, from how to vote at elections to health eating, hate crime to the history of Carlisle Mencap and how the treatment of people with learning disabilities has changed over the years - the latter in conjunction with those lovely people from Carlisle Youth Zone.

On Wednesday, February 6, at Harraby Community Theatre, we will be officially launching our latest film. Called Tell Someone, this five-minute production turns the spotlight on the dangers of mate crime. 

Mate crime is when someone deliberately befriends a vulnerable person with the intention of exploiting them financially, physically or sexually - or all three.

The film has been produced with the support of the Police Commissioner Peter McCall, Cumbria Constabulary, and Haltwhistle Film Project, and features members of the Independence Studio and staff.

Keep an eye on our website, Facebook and Twitter pages to see the link to this new film once it is launched as you will be able to see it on YouTube.

Also on YouTube you can see some of our other films.The dangers of sexual exploitation was featured in a film called Is It Ok?. Meanwhile last year, Take Control focused on hate crime and that film was supported by the police and the Home Office.
As well as being able to view on YouTube, copies of our films can be bought for just a few pounds from Carlisle Mencap.
Carlisle Mencap prides itself at being at the forefront of issues like hate crime and was a big reason why last year the charity was chosen to be a partner in the annual nationwide #NO2H8 Crime Awards which celebrates individuals and organisations countering hatred, intolerance and prejudice. Other high-profile partners included the Daily Mirror and Kiss FM.
*         To see the film Take Control about hate crime, go to:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q5MZj2whgnk&t=19s
For Is It OK? about sexual exploitation, go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ORqz5c1My0k&t=35s

Wednesday, 2 January 2019

A very Fare scheme

A VERY happy new year to you all! Let's hope it's a good one, without any fear - as Mr Lennon once put it. And let's hope 2019 proves to be a bumper fundraising year for Carlisle Mencap despite all the economic uncertainties at the moment.

A lot of this uncertainty is down to Brexit. Whatever your thoughts and views on whether it is better to Remain or Leave, there is no doubt that as the March deadline looms, the fact we are all in a state of limbo about what will actually happen after March is certainly not helping matters. Today, the Financial Times (Oh yes, I always get a copy of this - along with The Beano) claimed that many economists had said forecasting UK economic performance for 2019 was impossible because of the uncertainty created by Brexit.

And unfortunately, when it comes to companies being cautious and starting to save money for a rainy day, a couple of things suffer straight away - advertising budgets and charitable donations. And yet in times of financial worry and strife, it is ironically even more vital that people and firms do give to charities to help those less fortunate than ourselves. So our aim - certainly mine, as it's my job! - here at Carlisle Mencap is to make sure that the vital work and services that we provide to people with learning disabilities across Cumbria remains firmly in the public eye and that companies, organisations and individuals continue to give us valuable support.

Of course charities have to be penny-wise as well. And one of the ways that Carlisle Mencap does that is by using the Fare Share food scheme.

Fare Share is the country's largest charity fighting food waste and hunger. It redistributes items from some of the biggest food producers around - nearly 17,000 tonnes of products a year that would otherwise go to waste.

Carlisle Mencap is signed up to the Lancashire & Cumbria arm of the Fare Share network and every Wednesday we are one of the groups that collects its food from the Harraby Community Campus in Carlisle which we then use in our centre at Huntley Avenue in Penrith, and also at the Grace Little and California House facilities in the north of the city.

So for a relatively small monthly we get excellent quality food - everything from fruit and veg to orange juice and yogurts - to help give nutritional meals to our service users. 

Just a reminder that coming up early in 2019 we have the Carlisle Mencap's Got Talent show at the Harraby Catholic Club on February 1 and also early in the same month on a more serious note we have the launch of the Independence Studio's latest film - Tell Me - which tackles the issue of mate crime.

For more details on these and other events keep an eye on our website at www.carlislemencap.co.uk  and you can follow us on Facebook and Twitter as well. You can also email me at phil.taylor@carlislemencap.co.uk or call 07341 865382.

And once again, have a great 2019!


Helping the Grace Little Centre

IT is a fantastic facility. The Grace Little Centre is also a vital facility for young people with learning disabilities. But we need ...