Essex Community Foundation
" I love the fact that my job is so very varied, and that I am helping a small charity, whose work I am passionate about"
Rachael Luckin, Braintree Mencap


Welcome to our Blog, where organisations that have received a grant blog about their work from their perspective. 

Braintree Mencap Blog

In the summer of 2014 ECF awarded a grant of £10,000 to Braintree Mencap so that they could employ their first General Manager. This was a major change for the organisation as previously much of this work had been undertaken by the organisation’s Chair, Trustees and a small team.

ECF agreed to fund this project as we were impressed with the overall management and governance of Braintree Mencap who were meeting a real need in their community. It was clear that the grant would have a lasting benefit by increasing the organisation’s capacity and ability to effectively support its beneficiaries and actively seek new funding opportunities.

ECF invited the new General Manager, Rachael Luckin, to write a blog over the course of the grant that would show, from her own perspective, the highs and lows of being a charity manager. We are delighted that Rachael agreed, in fact she was really excited and we would like to thank her and the organisation for allowing us to publish her first post here.

Caroline Taylor, Deputy Chief Executive ECF

Blog by Rachael Luckin, General Manager, Braintree Mencap

November 2014 – January 2015

Well they say time flies when you are having fun, but I really do not know where the rest of 2014 went. It passed in the blink of an eye, and it does not seem possible that I have now been in the position of General Manager for over 7 months.

Braintree Mencap is now officially 60 years old and I feel proud to be leading our small charity into its 60th successful year in the Braintree District and looking back even to what we offered during the 50th year celebrations it is amazing to see the positive changes and the extent to which our service provision has grown, even during the past decade.

Reading the blog from September really bought home to me the fact that this position is all about keeping lots of various plates spinning simultaneously and I think that it is fair to say that I have not only continued to do this, but have managed to add a couple more plates into the mix. I have taken over the production of our quarterly Link magazine and have been instrumental in the purchase of a new minibus for our Society. Whilst the latter sounds straightforward enough, the legalities regarding weight and size of bus, coupled with numbers of seats required and size of current garage have made this task into a minefield. However, bus was found and purchase executed and our members are now enjoying this purchase to the full during swimming, hockey, photography, football and gateway club, as well as being used by the children at our Play and Activity Respite Scheme.

We have been fortunate enough to have been able to initiate a hockey pilot this term, working with the Pheonix Hockey Club in Bocking and our members participation in sports was acknowledged in the Braintree Active Sports Awards in the latter part of 2014 where one of our members was voted Disabled Sports Personality of the Year!

Our Life Skills Group were very excited to learn that the planned peer to peer learning workshops had been successful in receiving funding from the Provide Foundation. The start of 2015 sees the group developing the workshops together with support, in order to tour the District delivering this interactive learning experience later in the year. We believe that people with a learning disability will enjoy listening to and observing their peers, whilst the simultaneous benefit is that the people with a learning disability delivering the workshops will retain the information that they are teaching others for a longer time.

As well as funding success with the Provide Foundation, our Swimming Group have received financial support from Greenfields and our Easter Holiday Activity Scheme for children with a learning disability has received a grant from the Hilton in the Community Foundation.

Lack of storage space being a constant issue in staff appraisals and supervisions, we were pleased to hear that we have received a grant from Essex Youth Strategy fund to increase our storage capacity this year, which will hopefully extend the life of our precious resources for our ever growing number of activities.

Funding applications have obviously been a major part of my role since September, as well as completing a tender for Essex County Council to commission our services. We are yet to hear from the Peoples Health Trust, Children in Need and are about to submit an application to Awards for All, but a number of smaller grants have been awarded to us for resources and equipment.

A focus for the coming term is to encourage other local groups to work together to provide opportunities for people with a learning disability to make new friends and extend their own personal networks, in a bid to combat social isolation. I organised a Christmas with Elvis event in December and we sold 130 tickets for an evening which included a fish and chip supper. We were delighted to see people attend from Dereham Gateway Club and Sudbury Gateway as well as meeting new people who had read about it in the Essex Chronicle.

Funding has been received to hold a workshop for people with a learning disability to learn about effective communication and planning and we are inviting other local groups to take part with the outcome being that we will plan together an interclub Gateways Got Talent event which will be held by the end of July. The exciting thing is that although the workshop is tailored for people with a learning disability, supporting staff also will learn about the importance of effective communication and we will all have an amazing event to look forward to – and practise for – mid-year.

There were two highlights for me from last term. The first was a phone call from Marc at Southend Mencap following our AGM in November. Marc was full of praise about how our service provision has grown and flourished in the past year. This meant a lot to me as I have looked to Southend for inspiration in past years working in Leisure Development. The second was proof reading my Impact Report which contains individual stories and achievements of our members throughout 2014, which serves to highlight the positive impact that our work has directly on the lives of individuals with a learning disability. It bought a tear to my eye to read how far different people, all of differing ages and abilities have come during the year and how our work has such resounding direct impact on their lives within the Braintree District.

This new year seems full of excitement especially as we are now in our 60th year, and I will be working with our Executive Committee to help plan some events to mark how special this anniversary is to us. I hope to be able to tell you more in my next blog. Until then, I intend to keep every plate spinning successfully!

Rachael Luckin
Braintree District Mencap Society

View July to October 2014 Blog