Monday, 19 August 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 help to maintain the high level of support it gives.

That is why for the rest of this year, and the whole of 2020 in particular, we will be concentrating our fundraising efforts on bringing in much-needed money for the centre, in north Carlisle, which opened in 2012 after £1m was raised through public appeals and a legacy from Grace Little, whose son Frank had Down's Syndrome.

So we are again appealing to the public and the business community to come forward to help us.

Sheila Gregory, our CEO, explains: "We are very proud of the Grace Little Centre - but it does cost a lot of money. The running costs are about £150,000 every year and for the last few years we have been subsidising the running of the centre to the tune of £30,000 from our own reserves.

"This is not sustainable. And this is why we are appealing to the local community and the business sector to help us."

The Grace Little Centre, right next door to the main entrance of Kingmoor Park North industrial estate, is a fabulous place which provides for young people with even the most complex disabilities. It also is home to our award-winning Independence Studio which has made short films tackling issues such as hate crime, mate crime and sexual exploitation with the mate crime film winning the top prize at the National Crimebeat Awards in London.

Facilities at the centre - or the GLC as we like to shorten it too! - include four fully accessible bedrooms with hoists; accessible bathrooms; IT suite; sensory room; soft play area; well-equipped kitchen with work surfaces that have adjustable heights; gardens with fully accessible play equipment and a 'wildlife' area.

The centre also hosts many training sessions. Carlisle Mencap staff are trained to support very complex needs of the young people, including tube feeding, epilepsy, handling and moving, and challenging behaviours. We also have parent support groups, parent training, staff training, parent-and-child sessions and family contact sessions - so it is a very busy place!

It also hosts various fundraising events. The latest took part last Saturday, August 17, when a barbecue was held, along with a super tombola and a 'Name the Elephant' competition. We were delighted when the High Sheriff of Cumbria, Marcia Reid Fotheringham, accompanied by her husband Jim, visited the barbecue event and spokes to many of the guests, staff and service users, as well as looking round the facilities of the GLC - and I know for a fact she was seriously impressed because she told me!

Ironically, back on May 1, the centre hosted an Open Day/Business Breakfast where the theme of the event was philanthropy and how businesses and Third Sector groups like Carlisle Mencap can work together for the benefit of the wider community.

Well, we certainly need the help of the business community now because as Sheila said, as a charity we cannot afford to keep ploughing thousands of pounds of our reserves into the GLC for years to come - however vital the centre is to people with learning difficulties and their families. And there is a lot of them out there that need this centre and our help.

So come on - help us to maintain this wonderful facility. Everything from the donation of a raffle or tombola prize to sponsorship worth a couple of thousands of pounds for one of our top fundraising events is a boon to us.

For example, the annual food bill at GLC is £1,460, insurance is £4,650, and repairs and renewals cost us £8,500 a year. So to pinch the well-known slogan of a certain supermarket, every little helps.

Three of our big events planned for next year are a fashion show (end of February/early March); a Giant Zip Line event for the early summer; and 'A Day At The Races' corporate event at Carlisle racecourse (either in June or September).. Any company wanting to help out by sponsoring one of those events - we would love to hear from you!

And we'd love to hear from you about ANY fundraising ideas you may have, or if you want to help out in any way. 

Please contact SHEILA GREGORY or myself - PHIL TAYLOR - on 01228 674393 or email or

#linkedin #fundraising #learningdisabilities #gracelittlecentre

Monday, 5 August 2019

Tasty fundraiser!

THE weather was great for our recent garden party to mark the reopening of the new-look California House centre for adults - now let's hope the sun shines again as our focus shifts to the children's centre at Grace Little and the forthcoming Sizzling Summer Barbecue event!

Carlisle Mencap has held barbecues in the gardens at the Grace Little Centre before and we hope this next one, on Saturday, August 17, between 12.30pm and 4pm will be a fun-packed occasion for all the family AND raise much-needed funds for our charity.

Admission will be free - you just have to pay for your food and soft drinks. We plan to have great-tasting sausages and burgers as well as vegetarian/vegan options. The Grace Little Centre is on Crindledyke Estate road, next door to the main entrance of Kingmoor Park North industrial estate.

As well as tasty food, we will be having a tombola and also continuing with our 'Name The Elephant' fundraiser!

The 'Name The Elephant' fundraiser will be making its debut the week before the barbecue - in other words this coming Saturday, August 10, when for the first time Carlisle Mencap will be having a stall at the popular Dalston Show. We hope to raise £100 through this - we have a very cuddly toy elephant (worth £100 - see pic below) and you pay £1 to have a go and at trying to guess its name - we are not giving away its gender! - and once all 100 spaces on our chart are taken we will reveal the name!

So please come along to the barbecue - and also come and say hello to us on our stand at Dalston Show - because the more money we make, the more day trips and activities we can provide for our service users!

And speaking of raising money, we have been looking ahead to 2020 and starting to draw up plans for our major fundraising 'spectaculars'. The three we have in mind are as follows:

1: TANDEM SKY DIVES: From the airfield at Flookburgh, south Cumbria. It costs £230 per person but if we were to have five or more doing the tandem jumps on one day we would get a £10 per person discount.

2: SPONSORED WALK ACROSS MORECAMBE BAY: These famous guided walks go across the spectacular Morecambe Bay at certain times of the year. Eden Valley Hospice are doing just such a walk on September 8. Setting off from Arnside and usually ending up at Kent’s Bank, the walks are between six to eight miles depending on the route and tides etc, and are suitable for any children and adult comfortable with walking three to four hours at a time. We would look to get at least 10 of the walkers sponsored but certain service users could join in too on the day to make it a memorable day out.

3: HADRIAN’S WALL WALK: A third possibility is for a group of people to do a sponsored walk along the Hadrian’s Wall Trail. We may do this in teams of four, relay style.  

If anybody is interested in taking part in any of the above - or two of them, or even all three! - then please get in touch with me, Phil Taylor, on 01228 674393 or email 

More details on the above three events will follow towards the end of the year so make sure you keep on eye Carlisle Mencap's website at as well as our Twitter account - @CarlisleMencap - and Facebook page -

And don't forget to pop along for a burger or hot dog at the Sizzling Summer Barbecue on August 17!

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 ...