Mencap and Virgin Money break fundraising record and raise awareness of learning disabilities

Through their charity of the year partnership, learning disability charity Mencap and Virgin Money have raised over £440,000 including gift aid – a record breaking amount. 

The fundraising effort exceeded the original target of £300,000 and any previous charity partnerships to date. 

Mary O’Hagan, director of fundraising at Mencap, says: “Throughout our transformational partnership, Virgin Money has shared our vision that every single person with a learning disability deserves to be valued equally, listened to and included in society.

“We are thrilled to be Virgin Money’s most successful charity fundraising partnership raising over £440,000 – a phenomenal amount.” 

Fundraising efforts

Over the last 18 months, Virgin Money colleagues’ fundraising efforts have included taking part in challenge events including The Great North Run, holding bake sales, raffles and auctions.

Recently, virtual activities like step challenges, quizzes and bingo have raised vital funds for the charity. 

Emma Tottenham, group corporate communications and sustainability director at Virgin Money, says: “We have enjoyed a truly inspiring partnership with Mencap and I’m very proud to announce that this is Virgin Money’s most successful fundraising partnership.”

Mencap provides essential support to the 1.5million people who have a learning disability in the UK. The coronavirus crisis has affected people nationwide, but people with a learning disability are one of the groups who have been hit the hardest. 

The charity has taken steps to meet increased demand for support during this time by boosting its helpline provision and adapting some of its sports and social inclusion programmes to deliver these projects virtually. 

Throughout the partnership, the two organisations have also been raising awareness of learning disability and promoting diversity and inclusion. This included Virgin Money co-hosting a roundtable with Mencap to discuss the barriers to employment for people with a learning disability. 

The event took place during Learning Disability Work Week in November 2019 and was attended by 12 leading UK businesses. 

Experience

Virgin Money also provided work experience placements for young people with a learning disability, while Mencap has been involved in the development of the bank’s Inclusion Strategy and has participated in key events such as the inaugural Financial Inclusion event held in July. 

People with a learning disability have been at the heart of the partnership: from Mencap and ENABLE Scotland staff and people who the charities support, to ambassadors such as Paralympian Jessica-Jane Applegate and actor Liam Bairstow.

Both ambassadors attended Virgin Money events to share brilliant first-hand stories and experiences, helping colleagues understand more about learning disability. 

Harry Roche, who has a learning disability, is a communications assistant and ambassador at Mencap, he says: “I have been so proud to be an ambassador for our charity of the year partnership with Virgin Money.

“I want to say a huge thank you to every single one of you for everything you have done. Thank you from everyone at Mencap, ENABLE Scotland and people with a learning disability like me.”

Tackling stigma

As Virgin Money’s Charity of the Year, Mencap was also the official charity for the 2020 Virgin Money London Marathon. On Sunday 4 October, 312 runners took on the 26.2 miles virtual challenge to raise money for Mencap’s life-changing programmes, including 64 Virgin Money colleagues. 

“Colleagues have thrown themselves into fundraising challenges over the past 12 months, including taking part in this weekend’s virtual London Marathon,” explains Emma.

“Our army of fundraisers have shown real determination and enthusiasm despite the impact of COVID-19 and their hard work means Mencap can continue their work to improve the lives of thousands of people across the UK with a learning disability.” 

10 runners who have a learning disability also took part, showing the world that people with a learning disability can achieve their dreams.

Using a creative communications campaign around the Team Mencap runners with a learning disability, Virgin Money and Mencap aimed to raise awareness and tackle stigma, promoting greater visibility of people with a learning disability and their phenomenal achievements. 

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