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By Heart of England Mencap, Aug 14 2017 09:15AM

A remarkable contribution to a local charity – spanning almost four decades – has been recognised with a special award and honorary role.

Audrey Rose will retire as a Trustee of Heart of England Mencap next year – having held the position since the mid-1980s.

Back then the charity, previously known as Stratford & District Mencap, supported around 20 local people with learning disabilities. Today it supports around 200, right across Warwickshire and Worcestershire.

Audrey’s daughter Janet was born with learning disabilities. When the family moved back to the UK in the early 80s, having lived all over the world, she was invited to join Stratford & District Mencap. She never left, joining the Board of Trustees and volunteering huge amounts of her time to help the charity as it grew and enabled the local learning disability community to access opportunities previously thought impossible.

“When my daughter was younger, despite having lived in France, she wasn’t allowed to take French lessons,” Audrey said.

“Things have changed enormously; people are now given an opportunity to develop their potential.

“There is still a way to go of course, particularly when it comes to people with learning disabilities being accepted in social situations. I would like to see that change. I also think the vulnerability of people with learning disabilities needs to be recognised more.”

In recognition of her extraordinary service, Audrey has been presented with a long-service award and will be made Honorary Vice-President when she retires in 2018.

Helena Wallis, Chief Executive of Heart of England Mencap, said: “Audrey’s outstanding contribution is one of the reasons why we wanted to recognise her work with us by making her a lifetime Vice-President.

“It is a reflection of the value of her contribution to the charity and to those that we support. The voice of families and carers is also significant in the work we do and Audrey has played an important role in representing carers in a range of formal and informal settings and being able to support other parents in a very complex and challenging world for those connected to someone with a learning disability.

“What is more outstanding is her capacity for understanding the needs of others and for caring. I know Audrey isn’t someone that openly promotes all these personal strengths, or does things for any type of accolade. Her involvement and commitment is a reflection of her remarkable passion and personal values. Whilst Audrey doesn’t see anything special in this - we absolutely do.”

When the charity began, it was very much focused on providing residential living for local people with learning disabilities. Over the years, its services have adapted and expanded considerably. Residential care is still provided, along with supported living, where customers can fulfil their wishes to be more independent, having their own flat, with access to communal areas and support workers when they need. Respite care is also provided, as well as complex needs day services. Pathway, the charity’s day activity service, offers a huge range of meaningful leisure and learning opportunities; from cooking to cycling.

With her new Honorary Vice-President role, Audrey will always be involved as the charity continues to respond to the needs of its customers.

“I wouldn’t have it any other way,” she said.

Photo: Audrey Rose collecting her long-service award from Helena Wallis, Chief Executive, and Glen Von Malachowski, Chairman

By Heart of England Mencap, Jun 27 2017 10:39AM

PEDAL power was in full gear at the weekend when cyclists took on the very first ‘Ride for Bikes Hilly Challenge’ to raise money for Heart of England Mencap.

Thirty cyclists took part in the event – a challenging 60km ride around Warwickshire and the Cotswolds – on Sunday (June 25th).

They have helped raise £1,000 for Heart of England Mencap, to extend its fleet of adapted bikes to allow local people with learning disabilities to enjoy the benefits of cycling too.

The event started and finished at Meon Vale Leisure Centre.

It was the first in what is now set to become an annual flagship fundraiser for the charity, supporting people with learning disabilities across Warwickshire and Worcestershire.

Fundraising Manager Cath Errington said: “We owe a huge thank you to everyone who supported this event, our sponsor Rosconn Group, and most importantly to all of those cyclists who took part.

“Thanks to them we have managed to raise £1,000, which to a small charity like ours, makes a very big difference. It will allow us to expand our fleet of adapted bikes and have a real impact on the people we support.”

As well as the 30 cyclists who completed the 60km on road, a team from Heart of England Mencap also completed 60km indoors, taking turns on a static bike, with Chief Executive Helena Wallis taking them over the line.

She said: “Cycling is something our customers get a huge amount of joy out of – but adapted bikes are very expensive and we are only a small charity.

“We are starting to build a small fleet of bikes thanks to previous fundraising, grants and donations –but we still need so much more. Hand cycles for example enable people in wheelchairs but with strength in their arms to experience to joy of cycling. Side by side bikes allow workers to ride with a customer, meaning that even those who don’t have much physical strength can still benefit from the experience. We want to buy regular bikes as well, so that friends and family can join our customers for a fun day of cycling.

“The idea now is to expand Ride for Bikes so that our fundraising can continue, we had some really positive feedback on the event from those who took part and we’re very excited about its future.”

Ride for Bikes was generously sponsored by Rosconn Group and supported by ShoeMed and Personal Vitality.

Daniel O’Donnell, Rosconn Group’s Managing Director, said: “‘It’s been a privilege to sponsor this year’s Mencap Ride for Bikes Hilly Challenge and great to know that we’re helping to raise money to buy adapted bikes to enable local people with a learning disability to enjoy cycling too.”

Information on next year’s event will be announced soon, anyone interested in providing support or sponsorship is asked to call Cath on 01789 298709.

By Heart of England Mencap, Jun 23 2017 10:22AM

A TEAM of volunteers from Santander UK have been digging deep to help transform a garden area enjoyed by local people with learning disabilities in Southam.

Staff from Santander spent the day helping Heart of England Mencap on Thursday (June 22) as part of the bank’s Discovery Days scheme, which encourages staff to take a day out of the office to volunteer with a local cause. In 2016, more than 6,000 members of staff took part in 556 projects across the country, including refurbishing local schools, hospitals and helping with community projects.

The team spent the day at Bull Yard in Southam, a residential supported living service run by Heart of England Mencap. The volunteers tidied up the existing garden, replenishing pots and flower beds, repairing a broken shed roof and painting and sanding garden furniture to restore it.

Helena Wallis, Heart of England Mencap’s Chief Executive, said: “Our gardens are important to us; having that outdoor space for our customers to enjoy and relax in, or even get involved in planting and nurturing. But with all that space comes a lot of maintenance – and we are so grateful to the team at Santander for choosing to spend the day volunteering at our charity.”

Rob Clark, Divisional Transactional Banking Director at Santander, said: “We chose to take on a third project with Heart of England Mencap to continue to support the work it does to help those with learning disabilities. It is important to continue to give something back to a charity that does so much to help the local community. We know from the projects already completed the work we do makes a difference to those who use the centre, making it a more pleasurable place for them to relax and enjoy.”

Heart of England Mencap supports individuals with learning disabilities, working across Warwickshire and Worcestershire. Services range from day activities to residential care, with supported living, short breaks, respite and outreach also a key part of the charity’s work.

For more information call 01789 298709 or go online at www.heartofenglandmencap.org.uk

Photo: Digging in – volunteers from Santander bank with Heart of England Mencap customers and staff at Bullyard


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