Activism

More than 1200 handwritten thank yous sent to disability charity volunteers

The cards will be delivered as part of Volunteers' Week which lasts until June 7

Handwritten thank you cards will be delivered to all 1,260 volunteers for learning disability charity Mencap to mark Volunteers’ Week (June 1-7).

People can give as little as an hour a year of their time to the organisation, but many volunteer weekly – and seven people have been helping the charity for more than 20 years.

The charity has grown from just 200 volunteers to more than six times that in the last five years. Many of the volunteers have learning disabilities themselves and benefit from the retail experience of contributing their time in a local Menap charity shop.

Anne-Marie Zaritsky, head of volunteering for Mencap, said the week is an opportunity for them to “say a big thank you to all of [their] inspirational volunteers who are just as passionate about supporting people with a learning disability as [the charity is]”.

She added: “For many of our volunteers, the opportunity to volunteer with Mencap is not only a chance to do something great, but it’s also an opportunity to develop new skills and experiences, as well as make new friends. Volunteering with Mencap can really transform lives.”

There are around 1.4 million people with a learning disability across the UK. Mencap supports them and their families while lobbying for changes in the law and improved services.

Mark Blears has a mild learning disability and started volunteering at Mencap’s Colwyn Bay shop 18 months ago.

He has had the opportunity to go on training courses and make good friends through his work with the charity.

He said he started volunteering because he wanted to help people who shared his experiences. One benefit has been the sense of community, he added, through getting to know regulars and building confidence speaking to members of the public.

Sam-l-and-Mark-l-c-Mencap1
Friends Sam (left) and Mark (right)

Blears added: “I have also been able to make so many friends while doing something I enjoy. We are all good friends but I have a special friendship with a young lad called Sam who has Down’s syndrome. We
get on really, really well. A

“As a team, we are all going to Colwyn Bay beach for a huge BBQ on the beach next week. It will be a great afternoon. Some our customers are even coming along to join us.

“Volunteering with Mencap has been amazing, it really has changed my life.”

The charity welcomes volunteers to a variety of roles, including its Visitor Service, Gig Buddies scheme, hosting fundraising events or campaigning, sharing skills like gardening to help improve the lives of people with learning disabilities, as well as helping in the shops.

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