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

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 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

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 ...