Thursday, 25 July 2019

Active August

AFTER a very busy June then a quieter July, here at Carlisle Mencap we are getting ready for an Active August!

Before I go on to tell you about the August events, a quick word about our fabulous garden party to mark the opening of the new-look California House centre for adults in California Road on July 12.

Despite dodgy weather in the days running-up to the event, I was assured by more Mencap experienced colleagues that the day would be fine as it never rains on a California House garden party - and so it proved!

With guests including the Mayor of Carlisle and her consort, and the city's MP, the event was a huge success and featured lots of coverage on local television, online and in the newspapers. 

So many thanks to all those who took part and to all the staff - especially the likes of Angela, Scott, Molly, and the rest of the California House team - who made it such a successful day. The Mayor of Carlisle, Marilyn Bowman, wrote me an official letter after the event saying how much she had enjoyed her day and what a privilege it was to see the hard work that goes into running California House.

Before we move on, a big thank-you to the teams of staff from Carlisle College and the Gillford Centre in Upperby for the excellent work they put in as part of their visit to tidy up and makeover the California House garden during the Give A Day To The City Week project. They did us proud!

So, on to August! And first off on Saturday, August 3 is the Target Wrestling event at Ullswater Community College in Wetheriggs Lane, Penrith, with doors opening at 6pm and all the action getting underway at 6.30pm.

Target Wresting is the top promoter for wrestling events in the north of England and southern Scotland so this show, suitable for all ages, is bound to be a great night's entertainment. Tickets cost just £8 and there is no booking fee. To get yours go to…/target-wrestling-li… 

The following Saturday, Carlisle Mencap will for the first time have a presence at the Dalston Show, one of Cumbria's top - and growing - attractions over the summer.

I've always had a soft spot for the Dalston Show. My wide was born and bred in the pleasant village and so we have always made a point of going along as family to this event for many years now. And it is growing in popularity and attractions, so we are thrilled to be taking part by having a stand at the event's Village Showfield venue.

I will be there from 9am onwards and we hope to have several members of Carlisle Mencap members coming along on the day to chat to visitors and to get them to take part in our tombola and other fundraising games!

The third Saturday in this run of events - August 17 - sees us in the gardens of our Grace Little Centre for a Sizzling Summer Barbecue from 12.30pm to 4pm. Admission to this event will be free - you just have to pay for your food and drink on the day. And our special guest will be the High Sheriff of Cumbria!

There will be more details about the barbecue event nearer the time on the Carlisle Mencap website page as well as on our Facebook page and Twitter account - and I will also be discussing it more in my next blog.

So - as always please, please, please try and get along to one, two or all three of these fantastic events for all the family in August. Your support is always welcome AND it helps provide much-needed funds. Spread the word too among family, friends and work colleagues.

And it goes without saying we are always grateful for volunteers - especially to help on the stand at Dalston Show and/or at the barbecue on August 17. If you would like to help, contact me - PHIL TAYLOR - on 01228 674393 email

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.

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 ...