In 1946 a small group of parents got together to protest about lack of facilities for their ‘mentally handicapped’ children as they were then called. They supported each other and began running their own activities for the children.
Over time this developed into The Huddersfield Society for Mentally Handicapped Children and Adults who ran parents evenings and leisure activities.
The late Mrs Haigh (left) and Mrs Cooper (right) the founding members of Mencap in Kirklees.
In the mid 1980s we worked very closely with Social Services on the development of Community Care. This led to the first group home in the area at Dryclough in Crosland Moor. We also worked with the Health Service who funded the refurbishment of our premises at Waverley Hall to create the first day service for people with learning disabilities run by the voluntary sector.
Other group homes and two more day services followed. Then in the recognition that social care was changing again we started providing a community support service to enable people to live independently in their own flats and houses.
In 1996 to celebrate fifty years of supporting people with a learning disability we set up the Full Body and the Voice Theatre Company based at The Lawrence Batley Theatre in Huddersfield. This company proved so successful that they were able to become independent and have continued to this day as the award winning Dark Horse Theatre Company.
Moving again with the changing priorities of social care we began running the Oddjob Handperson and Gardening Employment Training Scheme and later opened our own Waverley Cafe as a base for our Catering Employment Training Scheme.
During this time we have also set up and run evening leisure clubs, keep fit groups, walking groups, supported leisure schemes and a Safe Places Scheme.
In 2008 Huddersfield Mencap, as we were then known, merged with Share to form Mencap in Kirklees. This led to us running services on a Kirklees-wide basis.
In the early days all of our services were provided by volunteers. Although we now have a staff team of well over 100 we still value our volunteers very highly, those who act as trustees, those who work on a one to one basis in the buddies scheme and all the others who add extra value to day services, leisure groups and homes.