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 and for other volunteering opportunities call 01228 674393 or email 

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

#giveadaytothecity #VolunteersWeek

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