Roaming to Rochdale

So it has been a while since I’ve blogged but I’ve been busy! The fundraising team I am part of have been visiting Mencap’s services and sharing what we learnt. My highlight was a visit to Cottonfold Community Garden Project, in Rochdale. One of the many things that Mencap does is provides support services for adults with a learning disability living independently in the community – Cottonfold is a block of five flats with a staff flat that provides a base for the support services (short video here).

I met some amazingly passionate, patient and ever-energetic support workers that assist with a whole range of things – dealing with post, banking, credit and debts, ensuring the correct medical treatment, relationship advice, healthy eating and cooking…

My heart broke hearing about vulnerable adults being taken advantage of by high street lending “businesses”, ending up with huge amounts of debt for household items they do not need. I feel so frustrated that this happens! I ‘m full of admiration for the support workers that help individuals speak up to the lenders, demanding more manageable re-payment plans.

I loved learning about the community volunteering project at Cottonfold. Mencap is working with Groundwork, an environmental regeneration charity, to develop the communal garden behind the flats into a shared space full of opportunities for growing fruit, vegetables, herbs, looking after pets, gardening and BBQ parties! This is the second year that the 10-week course has run and judging by the size of the BBQ extension, the project is going really well! The residents of Cottonfold are completing the work as volunteers with training from Groundwork staff and will be eligible for a community volunteering award. There is ongoing debate among the Cottonfold residents about whether to build a chicken coop or extend the guinea pig and rabbit run. I’m hoping the appeal of fresh eggs for the Saturday Breakfast Club will win! An amazing project!

It is back to the office this week and it is Learning Disability Week 2013 – find out more here. Mencap is calling for people with learning disabilities and their families to share stories of strength, courage and achievement – inspirational stories celebrating real-life superheroes are everywhere I look!