Fundraising has already raised £3500 for Sheffield Mencap and Gateway as the charity approaches its 70th birthday by members, staff and volunteers challenging themselves in the event, ‘Sponsor me 70’.
The charity works to improve the quality of life for adults and children with learning disabilities in Sheffield.
A member of the management team at Mencap and Gateway, Jonathan Raimondi said: “We wanted to do something our members could get involved with. We call them members rather than something like clients, because we consider them the biggest part of the place.”
He added: “We have very committed staff and loads of volunteers, so we wanted something everyone could get involved with. We came up with an idea where people can get sponsored to do anything, as long as it is a challenge to them.”
The event has been under way for the past three weeks with people taking part in various challenges to raise money for the charity.
Mr Raimondi said one of the members was going to host a DJ marathon, playing 70 songs in one day.
There are also members doing 70 laps of the building and volunteers taking part in sporting challenges like cycling and swimming, as well as walking.
One volunteer involved with the event is Millie Clarke, a student at the University of Sheffield.
She has volunteered at Sheffield Mencap and Gateway on and off throughout her time at university and she said the staff who work there are so dedicated to their jobs.
Miss Clarke added: “It’s been fantastic. I’ve enjoyed getting to know every member I’ve worked with. Support for children, and particularly for adults with learning difficulties is scarce; being part of such a wonderful environment was honestly a privilege. I can’t wait to go back!”
What made Miss Clarke want to volunteer at Mencap was the individually-focussed and non-patronising support, which Mr Raimondi said was extremely important to the charity as they encourage people with learning disabilities to challenge themselves and to show their skills and talents.
“For the 70th Jubilee lots of people are doing something ‘70-related’ to raise money and awareness. I’m doing 70K in 14 days in June (well that’s my aim!)- it’s fantastic to be involved and I’m really happy Jonathan gave me the opportunity to do so.” Miss Clarke said.
As well as sport, Mr Raimondi said they have one lady who is going to play 70 games of Scrabble, a lady who is going to sew 70 things and people doing 70 minutes of sponsored silence.
As part of the birthday celebrations, Mencap and Gateway are also doing something called 70 stories, telling the stories of some of our members, staff and volunteers across social media, radio Sheffield, and various places.
As part of this there is going to be a book of 10 stories written by Mr Raimondi, who will be interviewing various families the charity are involved with from 1951 to today.
Mr Raimondi added: “‘Sponsor me 70’ is a real leveller as it encourages our staff and volunteers to also challenge themselves as well and to raise money for a place they are very committed to. But I think what is most exciting is the things our members can do to challenge themselves.”
To get involved or support the charity, visit Sheffield Mencap and Gateway here.