End of an era as Ripon charity ends after 25 remarkable years

After 25 life-changing years, a much-loved Ripon charity has held its very last meeting due to an unsustainable future.

Monday, 16th December 2019, 12:37 pm
Updated Monday, 16th December 2019, 12:38 pm
Thank you for everything: Past and present members and volunteers pictured at the last meeting of Ripon Activity Project, with long-term supporters and committee members.

The hard-working committee members and volunteers of Ripon Activity Project (RAP) should feel very proud of all that they have achieved since the group's inception, and have already been highly commended for their efforts in keeping it going for as long as they have done, pouring huge amounts of energy and enthusiasm into doing so.

As a social club for adults with learning disabilities and/or physical disabilities, RAP has made a massive difference to dozens of families in Ripon and across the wider district over the years - bringing friendship and a whole feast of opportunities to everybody who has attended.

One of the main reasons for the charity's closure is a lack of new volunteers, despite several appeals for support. The main three volunteers, Jerry Anderson, Maggie Cobbett and Sue Williamson, clocked up a total of almost 60 years volunteering experience with the club between them, and had hoped to find more people to secure the group's long-term future.

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Membership has dropped, as there are now many other opportunities available to the members which did not exist when RAP was set up in 1994. Members who live in supported accommodation have also been unable to attend due to staff shortages.

Jerry Anderson who has been a volunteer for almost 19 years, and chairman for 16 of these, said: “I am very proud that RAP has continued for 25 years, especially as management of the club was transferred from Ripon CVS to RAP volunteers in 2005, and volunteers have managed to keep it going for another 14 years.

"RAP has provided a valuable service to the community, and many members have enjoyed taking part in numerous and diverse activities which have helped them to make friends, gain confidence and experience activities which they might never have done."

Although it's the end of an era for RAP, many members are also part of Ark Ripon, which Jerry is also the chairman of. Ark Ripon meets on most Tuesday nights at Ripon Bowling Club during term-time, and is for people aged 16 and over with learning and/or physical disabilities.

Jerry said: "Volunteers are needed to keep this sort of club running, and volunteering can be for just a few hours each month. I find volunteering very rewarding and fun, it is also very satisfying to do something worthwhile for the community."

Ripon Activity Project's last meeting was held at the youth centre next to Outwood Academy on December 14, where 27 supporters, including members and volunteers past and present, gathered to bid an emotional farewell to the group.

The former Mayor of Ripon, Coun Pauline McHardy, brought chocolates for the members, and Sue Williamson, a long-term volunteer, ran a Christmas bauble craft-making session, which was followed by a carol singing session led by Joy Rayden. There was also a pool competition, won by Stevie Blair who was presented with a trophy.

RAP came about when Joy Rayden who worked at Ripon Council for Voluntary Service (CVS) put forward the idea, and was set up in 1994 by Ripon CVS, Barnados and Harrogate Borough Council.

Over the course of its 25-year history, RAP has delivered a variety of activities in the youth centre, with art, crafts, games and music, and activity-packed trips including bowling, sailing, archery, panto and theatre visits, and summer outings.

An ever-popular event has been the annual talent contest, ‘RAP's Got Talent,’ which has been staged in October following the AGM, where mayors have been invited and acted as judges.

Anybody interested in joining Ark Ripon as a member or volunteer should email Jerry Anderson: [email protected]