Future of disability group in doubt due to lack of volunteers

Derek Salter and his wife Olwen Salter with the mini bus

Derek Salter and his wife Olwen Salter with the mini bus - Credit: Archant

The future of a group which helps people with learning difficulties is in doubt because of a lack of volunteers.

The Hitchin Letchworth and District Mencap group could fold within a year if it is not able to recruit more volunteers.

The branch, which runs from Our Lady Immaculate and St Andrew Church in Nightingale Road in Hitchin, was set up 1965 to provide support for parents and families of children and young people with learning difficulties. Acting secretary of the group, Derek Salter, said: “The volunteers who keep this going are all getting older. Many members of our committee are over 70 and not able to continue much longer. We are desperate – there is a very real prospect that Hitchin, Letchworth and District Mencap will fold in the next 12 months.

“Our focus for the future is on integrating people with learning difficulties into the community and we feel that this requires a fresh outlook from a younger generation.”

The group runs the Gateway Club, which meets on alternative Saturday afternoons at the church.


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Its members enjoy an afternoon with a variety of activities such as games, crafts, puzzles, a disco and exercise led by trained teachers. The sessions are run by volunteers and there are some outings during the year.

The group, which currently has three regular volunteers and three part-time volunteers, as well as a committee board, also offers transport in their minibus to regular activities like swimming.

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Mr Salter said: “Hitchin Rotary clubs also provide minibus drivers and without them we would not be able to have the Gateway Club.”

Volunteers are urgently needed to take on the roles of secretary, organiser of the Gateway Club and keeper of the minibus.

If you are interested in volunteering, call Mr Salter on 01462 454302 or email Derek_sg5@hotmail.com

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