News & Events News Volunteer recognised for 12 years of service We are proud to have awarded one of our longest standing volunteers with a certificate of recognition for over a decade of exemplary support to Harrow Mencap. Jonathan Wilding first joined Harrow Mencap as a volunteer back in 2009. He has a mild learning disability and anxiety, but these have not stopped him from being a dedicated supporter of the organisation over the last 12 years. Jonathan has even continued to find ways to contribute to Harrow Mencap despite moving away in 2012. We recognised Jonathan’s support at our first Connecting Communities event back in St John’s Church, Central Harrow since the third national Coronavirus lockdown on 22 February 2021. (Jonathan with his certificate) Jonathan was presented with a certificate saying he was awarded: For his exceptional volunteering over the last 12 years even when living in Bournemouth. Jonathan has raised large sums through supermarket collections and assisted with a multitude of activities over the period. During the session, Jonathan was the guest of honour, and discussed his volunteer story with the group. Jonathan began his voluntary journey with us by supporting our activities at Harrow Mencap Head Office. He told the group: I did a lot of admin, filing, spread sheets and franking to help the staff out, I dealt with post too. In the early years, Jonathan also played on Harrow Mencap’s football team, the Harrow Stones, which he really enjoyed doing, he explained: I scored quite a few goals, and played as a defender, but my favourite things to do at Harrow Mencap were supermarket collections for fundraising, and lunch club and coffee morning events. From 2011-2020, supermarket collections were a key part of Jonathan’s role with us, even after he moved away to live with his mother and brother near Bournemouth in Dorset in 2012. Every month, Jonathan would come back to Harrow for a week or occasionally two weeks at a time to carry on with his collections and activities. While Jonathan was able to find another charity to volunteer with in Dorset, he was disappointed that he was not allowed to do supermarket collections there even though he was still doing them in Harrow. With the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, however, many of Jonathan’s social opportunities dried up and were cancelled because of the lockdown. Thankfully, Jonathan was able to join in with some of Harrow Mencap’s Connecting Communities phone-in activities from his home in Dorset, giving him a chance to socialise with others. But after a while, Jonathan felt he needed more support and pleaded with his mother to allow him and his brother to move back to Harrow so he could actively take part in more Harrow Mencap activities. His mother agreed, and he returned to Harrow and started to attend Connecting Communities events in keeping with government guidelines towards the end of 2020. (Jonathan attended a Harrow Mencap Christmas event in December 2020) Jonathan explained his decision to move back to Harrow saying: Harrow Mencap have all the things I need, my brother and I were cut off [in Dorset], we didn’t have many friends like at home. Since coming back to Harrow Mencap, Jonathan has also gotten involved with the Connecting Communities walking group and joins three different activities a week, including a walk, a phone-in or quiz, and a lunch club or church event. Jonathan has even been a speaker during the phone-in events, giving talks to other participants about life in Dorset and buses. Reflecting on these changes, he said: Life has been a lot better with me and my brother’s wellbeing. He is excited at the prospect of having a full week of activities to do with the expected resumption of supermarket collections on 29 March, he added that: My most favourite thing at Harrow Mencap is money collections at supermarkets, second is playing football, then supporting lunches and events, and then going on walks. When asked to summarise Harrow Mencap in 3 words, Jonathan said: Diversity, brilliance, and creativity After receiving his certificate, he said: I feel absolutely surprised, gobsmacked, very chuffed, and happy, and I thank Harrow Mencap from the bottom of my heart. I am proud to be the longest serving volunteer. Congratulations Jonathan, and thank you for all your amazing work, you are a crucial part of the Harrow Mencap family, and we are so grateful for and proud of all you have achieved.