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Encouraging engagement with local communities through charity work

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By Sandie Foxall-Smith, CEO of The Regard Group

Studies measuring hormones and brain activity have revealed that being helpful delivers immense pleasure - we are hard-wired to give to others and the more we give, the happier we feel. It’s not just a question of instant gratification, helping others through charity work or fundraising provides mental stimulation and a sense of purpose. Also, very importantly, it allows you to connect to your community, make new friends, and develop your social skills.

Recognising that the social contact aspect of helping and working with others can have a profound effect on our overall psychological well-being, the question for Regard has never been whether we should support our service users’ involvement in charity fundraising and voluntary work, rather how can we ensure everyone we support has ample opportunity for suitable involvement?

Claire Searle, who lives in a supported living property in Gayton, Norfolk, is one of the many people we support who enjoy working in a local charity shop.

The Sail House team helped Claire - who has learning difficulties - to identify a suitable position and she has now been working happily at the British Heart Foundation shop in King’s Lynn High Street for more than three years.

She travels to King’s Lynn independently and we get fantastic feedback about her. Claire’s contribution is clearly highly valued and she’s been presented with a ‘Long Service’ certificate, which means a great deal to her.

Such opportunities are invaluable to the people we support - it gives them a platform for integration, makes them feel valued because they’re making a contribution, increases their self-confidence and provides a natural sense of accomplishment. Even those who are not capable of undertaking voluntary work in the community are supported to participate in regular charity fundraising, with our staff and service users voting annually for a charity they wish to support. Regard matches every pound raised by the staff and service users with a pound from the corporate coffers.

The chosen national charity for 2016 is MIND, and fundraising events are being undertaken regionally all year long, with activities such as sponsored or fundraising barbecues, picnics, walks/runs, muddy obstacle courses, bake-offs, tombolas, charity days and auctions.

At Arrowe Hall in the Wirral, service and locality managers entered fully into the spirit of the service’s charity summer barbecue subjecting themselves to an onslaught of wet sponges in the stocks. The feel-good day raised nearly £670 for MIND, and strengthened relationships with local businesses and individuals who kindly donated raffle prizes.

And in Snowdonia, when our OWL project at Cerrig Camu and Llwyngwian Farm held a joint fundraiser for MIND, service users were fully involved in all the organisation, planning, and preparations, helping design and make water stocks, bookmarks and trinket boxes to sell - not forgetting all the lovely cakes for the cake stall.

Suzanne, who attends day sessions at Cerrig Camu said: “I had a great time; I enjoyed having the tombola. My family came up too and it was nice to introduce my friends to them.”

Terry, who lives at Llwyngwian Farm said: “It was nice to meet up with my friends and the homemade cakes were lovely. My favourite part of the day was getting my care worker soaking wet in the stocks.”

Endorsement for such efforts was received recently from the CQC inspector who gave an ‘Outstanding’ rating to our Douglas House service in Plymouth - the rating being due in part to the brilliant way our service users integrate with the local community while fundraising for the city’s St Luke’s Hospice. Our resolve to keep on helping others just got stronger.

Article first published in the Care Talk magazine August 2016 -

Arrowe Hall


Specialism: Arrowe Hall is a beautiful stately home set in its own grounds within a large municipal park and golf course. The tenants