Volunteers’ Week is a national campaign to recognise and celebrate the fantastic contribution made by people who volunteer across the UK which runs from Saturday 1 to Friday 7 June 2019.

1260 people volunteered for Mencap in the last year, seven of whom have volunteered for the charity for 20 years or longer. Volunteers can give as little as one hour a year through to volunteering each a week and there are many different ways that volunteers can get involved in Mencap.

The charity has grown its volunteer network over the last five years from around 200 volunteers through to 1260 volunteers today. Mencap is proud of the growing number of its volunteers who have a learning disability, with many gaining vital retail experience by volunteering in their local Mencap’s charity shop which then helps increase their employability.

Mark Blears, who has a mild learning disability, started volunteering in Mencap’s Colwyn Bay charity shop 18 months ago. He said:

“I started volunteering at Mencap’s Colwyn Bay charity shop because I had heard great things about Mencap and I wanted to help people, like me, who have a learning disability. I get to serve customers, do the cashing up and make sure that our customers are all happy. We have so many regulars that come into the shop that it feels like a real community. Since I started volunteering here, I feel a lot more confident in myself and I’ve had lots of training in different things.

“I have also been able to make so many friends while doing something I enjoy. We are all good friends but I have a special friendship with a young lad called Sam who had Down’s Syndrome. We get on really, really well. As a team, we are all going to Colwyn Bay beach for a huge BBQ on the beach next week. It will be a great afternoon. Some our customers are even coming along to join us. Volunteering with Mencap has been amazing, it really has changed my life.”

Anne-Marie Zaritsky, Head of Volunteering at the learning disability charity Mencap, said:

“Volunteers’ Week is a time for us to say a big thank you to all of our inspirational volunteers who are as passionate about supporting people with a learning disability as we are. For many of our volunteers, the opportunity to volunteer with Mencap is not only a chance to do something great, but it’s also an opportunity to develop new skills and experiences, as well as make new friends. Mark’s friendship with Sam is testament to that. Volunteering with Mencap can really transform lives.”

People can volunteer directly with people with a learning disability through Mencap’s Visitor Service and Gig Buddies scheme, raise awareness of learning disabilities by hosting fundraising events or campaigning with Mencap, volunteering in Mencap’s charity shops or sharing their skills like gardening to help improve the lives of people with a learning disability.

No matter how much time you can give, every hour makes a real difference to the lives of people with a learning disability. To find out more about Mencap’s current volunteer opportunities visit our website.


For further information or to arrange interviews, contact the Mencap press office on:

  • Tel: 020 7696 5414

Notes to editors

About Mencap

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 education, employment and leisure facilities. Mencap supports thousands of people with a learning disability to live their lives the way they want. www.mencap.org.uk

For advice and information about learning disability and Mencap services in your area, contact the Learning Disability Helpline on 0808 808 1111 or email helpline@mencap.org.uk.

What is a learning disability?

  • A learning disability is a reduced intellectual ability which can cause problems with everyday tasks – for example shopping and cooking, or travelling to new places – which affects someone for their whole life;
  • Learning disability is not a mental illness or a learning difficulty, such as dyslexia. Very often the term ‘learning difficulty’ is wrongly used interchangeably with ‘learning disability’.

People with a learning disability can take longer to learn new things and may need support to develop new skills, understand difficult information and engage with other people. The level of support someone needs is different with every individual. For example, someone with a severe learning disability might need much more support with daily tasks than someone with a mild learning disability.