On 21st November, senior figures from the Co-operative Group and Mencap Chief Executive Jan Tregelles were joined by young people with a learning disability at the spectacular Altitude Sky Loft, London, to celebrate the £7.2 million raised to support Mencap’s Inspire Me Project.
Inspire Me was launched in May 2011, after Mencap was nominated ‘Charity of the Year’ by the Co-operative Group, who raised an amazing £7.2 million pounds for Mencap and Enable Scotland. The money raised has fully funded the programme, which has exceeded its target of engaging with 25,000 young people with a learning disability across the UK.
All of the young people that Inspire Me has engaged with are aged between 14 and 25 so at a key transitional stage in their lives. Inspire Me’s innovative community projects, workshops, accredited training and structured volunteering opportunities all aimed to improve confidence, develop new skills and encourage young people to identify and focus on their strengths.
Young people with a learning disability often need more support to stay on in education, secure work experience and help to live active social lives. Without this support it can lead to isolation and exclusion from their communities. Inspire Me looked to allow people with a learning disability to live the lives they want to live.
For Ashley Sykes it has been a chance to inspire other young people with a learning disability. Ashley has taken part in Confidence and Motivation workshops, fundraising, an enterprise week and the national Mencap ‘Hear My Voice’ campaign.
Ashley who has a learning disability and involved in Inspire Me says:
“Being a Young Ambassador has really built my confidence. I have met so many new people and I think I am a great role model. I love to inspire other young people and show them what they can achieve.”
For Jordan Abrahams, it has built his confidence and led to his first paid job. Jordan first attended an Inspire Me Confidence and Motivation workshop in April 2013. His attendance at Inspire Me Workshops was completely voluntary and he gave up his free time to attend sessions designed to increase his employability.
Jordan’s work over the sessions was accurate and timely and he actively engaged with feedback, taking on board ways he could further develop his skills after his involvement with Inspire Me.
He has gone on to successfully secure an apprenticeship as Facilities Administrator with Mencap at the Business Support Centre.
Jordan who has a learning disability and involved in Inspire Me said:
“I really enjoyed taking part in the Inspire Me workshops and found the Youth Worker, Linzi, really supportive. She helped me to focus on my goals and I am really proud to have achieved one of these, which was finding employment as an Administrator.”
Over 25% of staff within the Inspire Me team had a learning disability and from the outset developed a specific Project Support role for people with a learning disability who could be an inspiration to others and ensure Mencap’s aim of being the voice of learning disability.
Matt Fowler is a Project Support for Mencap. He has been part of the programme from the outset and is proud of what he has achieved during his time with Inspire Me. Matt said:
“I have personally mentored a number of young people on the Inspire Me programme which has been very rewarding. It has really developed my confidence in terms of presenting to large numbers of people. I even had the opportunity to present at an SEN conference in Prague. Another huge achievement was delivering a community project called ‘Poems to Inspire’. We encouraged creative young people with a learning disability to submit poems about their lives and experiences for a book that was then published with proceeds going back to Mencap.”
Mencap were extremely fortunate to have been selected as beneficiaries of 10% of Altitude Sky Loft’s £150,000 pledge to enable more charitable organisations to hold events at their prestigious venue.
Russell Gill, Head of Membership and Social Goals from The Co-operative said:
“It is very gratifying to think that all the hard work and imagination our staff, members and customers put into raising money for Mencap and Enable Scotland has left such a legacy for a generation of young people with a learning disability.
“It is incredible to see how the ‘Inspire Me’ programme has made such a real and tangible differences in so many local communities.”
Justin Etzin, Altitude London’s Brand Owner, said:
“We are delighted to be hosting Mencap Inspire Me’s celebration event. The project has had a wide-reaching impact not only in London but across the UK. We understand that for a number of the young people this will be their first trip to the capital and we are looking forward to making it an unforgettable experience”.
There are 1.4 million people with a learning disability in the UK. Mencap works to support people with a learning disability, their families and carers by fighting to change laws, improve services and access to health, education, employment and leisure facilities. Mencap supports thousands of people with a learning disability to live their lives the way they want.