Have you ever thought about volunteering? But kids and childcare and errands and, and, and… don’t worry, we understand – life is busy!

There are many benefits to volunteering and here are 5 Reasons why you should make time to volunteer:

1. Improve Your Skills

Volunteering can improve your skills in a whole host of different ways. From communication to teamwork and time management, you’ll develop various skills that could be mentioned on your CV. Employers are always looking for excellent interpersonal skills and volunteering, even just a few hours a week, can really help with that.

2. Improve Your Mental Health

Helping and supporting others around you can improve your own Mental Health. Being able to focus on someone else can reduce the feeling of stress and improve well-being. This, in turn, can improve your confidence and self-esteem and bring a more positive outlook in new situations.

3. The Feel-Good Factor

Supporting a cause you are passionate about can give you that warm feeling inside, that you’re doing something good in your local community and for something you are passionate about.

Here at Midland Mencap, we love getting volunteers involved in our projects and want them to feel like they are giving back in the way they want to.

4. Meet New People

In a world that spends their life super-glued to their phone, volunteering offers that small window of opportunity to meet new people in your local community.

Whether you spend time with our citizens, wider Midland Mencap team or other volunteers, you’ll be able to form meaningful friendships with those around you.

Our Community and Group Befriender roles are the perfect examples of this and would be excellent if you want to spend quality time with citizens within the West Midlands area.

5. Gain New Experiences

Volunteering can allow you a few hours a week or month to experience something new. Whether it be through supporting an event or campaign we run or at some of our weekly sessions, you’ll find yourself making memories and learning more about your local community every time.

We offer a wide range of roles to get involved in. Whether you want to stick with one role or swap every few months, we can ensure you’ll have a fantastic experience volunteering with us, whatever you decide to be involved in. You can even attend taster sessions and find the role you.

If you’d like to get involved with us as a volunteer, check out our Volunteer Roles, click here.

Hello everyone and welcome to this month’s blog!

Today I want to talk to you about the place I volunteer at The Real Junk Food Project Birmingham and how it has helped my mental health. The Junk Food Project is a global network of Pay As You Feel concepts with the aim to abolish surplus food. A fun fact about food waste is that on average we each waste 1000 Turkeys a year!

I found out about this project through a friend who is sadly no longer with us and I miss her lots. I’ve done various volunteering roles before but I have a real passion for food and being healthy! I’m not vegetarian but I do really like the vegetarian options we offer at the Real Junk Food Project which really shows their motto of “feeding bellies not bins”.

I’m really grateful what this project has given me, my friends and the customers and I would like to give a few reasons why my volunteering role with the Junk food project has helped with my mental health. With this illness there are some hard days where I struggle to get motivated but on days I volunteer it’s given me determination to keep going because seeing customers smile and get really excited about what we have on offer. Also like hockey working as a team and making long lasting friendships I feel its somewhere I belong and has given me the passion to look forward instead of back!

Another reason why I want to talk about mental health is because I feel sometimes people are afraid to talk about it. I’ve asked a few people to give their thoughts on mental health…

“I’m a Midland Mencap sports volunteer, joining hockey sessions every week. I know that if a player sprains their ankle, for example, it is easy to say – I can’t come this week because I’ve sprained my ankle. But many people would find it harder to say – I can’t come this week because I feel a bit down. That’s because there can be a taboo around mental health. I think it is really important, if you are feeling down or anxious, to be able to say so and ask for support.” -Jenny, Midland Mencap Sports Volunteer-

“Looking into the Future and thriving to be a better version of myself” -The Real Junk Food Project Birmingham Attendee-

I went through something terrible and without volunteering, hockey and other people it kept me going. I suffer with it but I’m not afraid to face it now! If you are reading this and feel you are suffering with mental health just know that there are understanding people out there that will listen and I defiantly recommend Volunteering! Thank you for reading and I look forward to sharing more in the new year!

Learn more about “The Real Junk Food Project Birmingham” here

Volunteer with Midland Mencap

Frequent visitors to the Enterprise Hub will certainly have met fresh-faced Oliver Clayton. Seated attentively at reception, you can be sure Ollie will give you a cheerful greeting upon arrival. Get him going on his favourite subjects (hockey and football) and he’ll keep you amused for ages.

Earlier in the year Ollie became the first person to ride one of Midland Mencap’s hand cycles in Sutton Park. “It was quite cold to start off with, in the snow,” he tells me, before going on to say he peddled in the park for ninety minutes. Was he tired and freezing by the finish? Hardly. He cycles every week, thus building strength and stamina.

Ollie is a seriously active man. An avid swimmer and hockey player, he was a key component of the Midland Mencap Flyerz Hockey Team that won Gold in Amsterdam last year at the 2017 Euro ParaHockey Championship. He hopes to match this achievement in Barcelona, in a few weeks.

In 2015 the Big Flyerz became the first team of adults with learning disabilities to represent England in a recognised tournament. All of the signs indicate they will take Barcelona by storm. With Ollie on board how can they fail?

-Tim Wright, Volunteer Reporter-

This week is #StudentVolunteeringWeek and here at Midland Mencap we’re celebrating the outstanding contribution of our 40-strong team of skilled and committed student volunteers.

As a Midlands-based charity, we are incredibly lucky to have some excellent higher education organisations right on our doorstep, including the University of Birmingham, Aston University, Newman University and Birmingham City University. Through their willingness to share and promote our voluntary opportunities, we have had the privilege of involving undergraduate and postgraduate students across a range of academic disciplines in a wide variety of voluntary roles.

Now, let me introduce you to some of these amazing student volunteers!

First meet Bethany:

A student at Newman University who is training to become a counsellor. Through her voluntary contribution as a Community Connections Volunteer, Bethany has given a Midland Mencap citizen the much-needed opportunity to get out and about in her community, have fun and do the things that make her happy. Whether it’s going bowling together, catching a bus into town or just hitting the shops, they always have a great time and Bethany has made a significant positive difference to that individual’s quality of life while also developing her own skills for her future career in counselling.

Next meet Simon:

A psychology student at Aston University and a qualified swimming teacher. With his excellent swimming skills, his calm and inclusive teaching style and his admirably responsible approach to volunteering, Simon is an absolutely fantastic Love to Swim Volunteer at our weekly swimming sessions for adults with learning disabilities. These sessions make such a positive difference to the participants’ health and wellbeing, and we are incredibly grateful to Simon for all his help and support.

And last – but definitely not least – meet Noureen:

A postgraduate student at the University of Birmingham who is currently studying for a Masters in Psychology. Noureen’s ambition is to work as an educational psychologist with children who have additional needs, and we feel very lucky that she has chosen to develop her skills and experience in this area by volunteering with the Midland Mencap Children and Young Persons’ team. By helping out as an Inclusive Play Volunteer at our weekly Tuesday Club, Noureen is making a brilliant contribution to the emotional and social development of the young people who attend by supporting them to socialise, have fun and try out new activities.

Thank you Bethany, Simon, Noureen and all of our other fabulous student volunteers – you guys rock!

If this blog has inspired you to volunteer with Midland Mencap (whether you’re a student or not!), you can find all of our current opportunities on the Do It website here.

-Hayley Stokes, Volunteer Coordinator-

On Sunday 3rd, Midland Mencap held their Weoley Winterland in their Enterprise Hub. It was an event for every one of all ages, from those at Mencap to their families and locals alike!

The festive stalls included arts & crafts, a tombola, a raffle, a cake sale, the fantastic Sing and Sign choir and Santa’s workshop – it’s safe to say there was plenty for everyone to do, no matter their age or interests.

I volunteered on the Arts & Crafts stall, making Christmas tree decorations out of painted lollipop sticks, pipe cleaners, pompoms and string. There were some impressive trees decorations crafted and it was great to meet people of all ages – from tiny children to the elderly and I was overjoyed by their enthusiasm. The eagerness of all the volunteers and staff in making the event a success was infectious. It was truly rewarding and I recommend volunteering at these events wholeheartedly.

With over 120 people attending and £402.63 raised for the charity, it was hugely successful and the atmosphere was wonderful. It really felt like Christmas had come and I’m looking forward to more events like this as it was an impressive turnout, a lot of fun and all for important causes!

– Kat, Reporter Volunteer –

One of the things I love most about our fabulous Midland Mencap volunteers is how ready and willing they are to ‘go above and beyond’ their regular volunteer role and help out at one-off special occasions and events as well.

This generosity of spirit was in evidence at our Sailing Day this summer when several of our enthusiastic and dedicated volunteers came along to Aldridge Sailing Club to help support adults with learning disabilities to have a fun day out on the water.

One of these volunteers was Claire Bayley: our brilliant Volunteer DJ who spins the decks every Thursday at the Midland Mencap disco night in Walsall. We already knew that Claire had awesome musical and DJ-ing skills but now, after the Sailing Day, we know that her skills in supporting people are pretty amazing too.

A lady called Jean had come along to take part in the Sailing Day. When she arrived, she was feeling very nervous and was reticent to get on a boat. Claire sat with Jean and chatted to her about how she was feeling, giving her as much reassurance as she could. Thanks to Claire’s support and encouragement, Jean finally felt able to face her fear and give sailing a go. Needless to say, she ended up having a great time out on the water – with Claire supporting her the whole time.

Thank you Claire! And thank you to all our volunteers who come to help out at events like these. You make such a massive difference, and we really couldn’t put on such fabulous events without you.

If you have been inspired by this month’s volunteering blog, you can find all of our current voluntary opportunities on the Do It website here.

-Hayley Stokes, Volunteer Coordinator-

Friends and family joined Midland Mencap staff, volunteers and members to celebrate The 4th Annual Sports Awards Evening.

2016 celebrated The Year of Participation, and with over 200 sports activities taken place over the year, participation seemed a fitting theme.

MP Richard Burden joined the evenings celebrations which saw Midland Mencap staff presenting players in various award categories.

“By encouraging involvement in a wide range of sports, Midland Mencap are putting inclusion into practice, building confidence and changing lives. It is also great to see real achievements recognised in the Sports Awards,” said Richard.

Winners at this year’s award include:

New member of the year – Salma Begum

Team of the year – Midland Mencap Development football team, players include Kath, Jo, Oliver, Nigel, Rob, Bryn, Jordan, Matthew & Jerome

Most improved athlete – Jordan Chandler

Most Improved athlete– Asim Latif

Sporting achievements – Nigel Smith

Sports personality – Jerome Browne

To find out more about getting involved with sports at Midland Mencap, either as a participant or volunteer, please contact The Sports Team on 0121-427-640430136887626_d2e7e64f42_z

Midland Mencap has always valued the amazing contribution from our fantastic volunteers but in 2015 we slightly changed the way we recruited and supported volunteers to make sure we and they were getting the most from their time with us. We are really pleased with the impact our new approach has had! We have welcomed 53 new volunteers into the team with so many skills and experiences who are now provided 100’s of hours of support.

From getting stuck in at one of our health and wellbeing activities to helping out behind the scenes with marketing and administration all the way up to providing one-to-one support and encouragement to a child or adult with a learning disability, there are so many ways that volunteers can get involved.

New volunteers are joining us all the time and their contribution is invaluable. In recognition of this and to show our appreciation, Midland Mencap holds regular ‘thank you’ events, providing opportunities for volunteers to relax and socialise (and – most importantly – to eat quite a lot of cake!).  Glenn Pledger, who has been volunteering as a Front of House Volunteer since May, said, “I am delighted with Midland Mencap and the voluntary work that I have been given. The atmosphere here is amazing.”

Interested? Find out more about volunteering with Midland Mencap by visiting and searching for ‘Midland Mencap’ at https://do-it.org