Young people across the UK with a learning disability have been given over £7 million opportunities to help to realise their potential as The Co-operative unveiled the total amount raised for its charity of the year during 2011.
The grand total reached £7,022, 866 and, the money raised by The Co-operative’s staff, members and customers will allow Mencap and sister charity ENABLE Scotland to launch ‘Inspire Me’ – a new project to provide activities and training that will give thousands of young people with a learning disability the chance to learn new skills and gain access to employment and volunteering opportunities in their communities.
Austin Healey, the former England rugby union player – and a Mencap celebrity ambassador – was on hand as The Co-operative announced the fundraising figure and, actors Sarah Jayne Dunn and Darren Langford also attended the celebration. The figure is the most ever raised by The Co-operative during one of its charity of the year campaigns and, is the highest figure received by Mencap from such a partnership.
Peter Marks, Group Chief Executive of The Co-operative, said: “Eight out of ten children with a learning disability are bullied. Young people with a learning disability face prejudice every day and a lack of opportunities which can make life a desperate struggle.
“The Co-operative is a national brand, but our roots have always been in the community and, it is this shared commitment to community projects that sets us apart. This money will leave behind a lasting legacy for a generation of young people with a learning disability. I am thrilled to say that together, we have been able to take a massive stride towards creating a cultural shift in the way young people are viewed and treated in this country – a key objective of our commitment to “Inspiring Young People”.
Across the country, The Co-operative – which has a retail outlet in every postal region and operates businesses including food, financial services, pharmacy, legal services, funeralcare and farming – has seen its staff, members, customers and suppliers, who were central to the success of raising this amazing amount, put the fun into fundraising. A Santa Dash and abseil, cycle rides, marathons and even a charity single by an employee band featuring Group Chief Executive of The Co-operative, Peter Marks, on drums kept the money flowing in for this worthwhile cause during 2011.
Mark Goldring, Mencap’s Chief Executive, said: “We have been overwhelmed by the support shown by everyone in The Co-operative Group, their fundraising efforts and generosity have made the partnership a great success. I would like to thank the staff, members and customers for helping to raise such a fantastic sum of money which will give thousands of young people with a learning disability the chance to change their future.”
Peter Scott, ENABLE Scotland’s Chief Executive, continued: “We have been astonished at the commitment shown by The Co-operative Group, employees, members and customers. The creativity and generosity of staff has been quite remarkable, and the money raised will give thousands of young people who have a learning disability the opportunity to build a brighter future. ENABLE Scotland would like to thank each and every person who has contributed over the course of the partnership.”
“Inspire Me” will work with local communities to change negative attitudes towards young people with a learning disability. Support will also be available for parents, families and carers with information events on issues including supported living, benefits and leisure activities.