The chief executive of George Best Belfast City Airport is calling upon the local business community to support Mencap’s Big Step Forward appeal.
Through the appeal, Mencap is seeking to build, equip and run a new purpose-built centre for children with a learning disability and their families in Northern Ireland.
It is aiming to raise £1.7m in order to open the centre by January 2016.
As chair of the Big Step Forward appeal, airport CEO Brian Ambrose is hoping the private sector will lend its weight to helping the charity make its vision a reality.
The £4.6 million centre in south Belfast will bring the therapeutic care, information, practical and emotional support children with a learning disability and their families need under one roof. At its heart will be Mencap’s relocated Segal House nursery for 2 to 4 year-olds with a learning disability, autism and developmental delay.
“Mencap has outgrown its current base, a Victorian building on Belfast’s Annadale Avenue, where it has been for over 40 years. The charity urgently needs to move to a modern facility to best deliver support to people with a learning disability and their families,” said Brian.
“The public and Mencap’s partners have been continuing to give generously since the Big Step Forward appeal was launched in October. Currently, there remains just over £1m required in order to meet Mencap’s target. The strength of the local business community would play a significant role in helping achieve that.”
Mencap has connections with corporate partners such as Ulster Rugby, George Best Belfast City Airport, Winemark, Citigroup, Texthelp Ltd and McKinty and Wright Solicitors, many of whom have been raising funds throughout 2014 and will continue supporting Mencap into 2015 in aid of the appeal.
“As all business leaders know, supporting a charity should never simply be a box to tick on the company’s community relations ‘to-do’ list. Reaching out to support a cause is simply the right thing for a business to do. Community activity can be extremely effective in motivating staff, teambuilding and boosting internal morale - and importantly, it can help change lives and create a meaningful impact on the fabric of our society,” added Brian.
There are several ways businesses can support Mencap’s Big Step Forward appeal, from adopting Mencap as their official charity of the year to making a one off donation, or taking part in one of Mencap’s events programme specifically designed for corporate fundraising.
This might involve entering teams into the Belfast City Marathon or signing up for Mencap’s Mourne Mountain Challenge next August. Organisations can also host a Mencap ‘Funky Footwear Friday’ event, which, in line with the ‘Big Step Forward’ theme, invites staff to donate or be sponsored to wear quirky footwear to work for the day.
“Over the years, even in times of economic hardship, the business community in Northern Ireland is known for its generosity in supporting worthy causes, of which there are indeed many. I hope that generosity will extend towards supporting Mencap’s Big Step Forward appeal, the impact of which will be felt for many years to come,” Brian said.
Visit www.mencapbigstepforward.org to find out more information. To support Mencap’s Big Step Forward appeal, you can text MENCAP to 70660 to donate £3 or donate online at www.mencapbigstepforward.org/donate