27 year-old Charlotte Aspley (third from the left in the photo) from Lichfield enjoys a good night out with friends and family but she recognised that many people with a disability are socially isolated and never get to enjoy an evening out. So she decided to apply for a YouCan grant to set up regular disco nights in a local pub especially for people with a disability.

An Ambassador for Mencap, her work to highlight the challenges faced by people living with a disability has earned her a visit to Buckingham Palace. Charlotte raised £7,500 for the charity by running the London Marathon last year and got the chance to show off her medal to The Countess of Wessex, who hosted a reception to celebrate the Mencap’s 70th anniversary in November 2017.

Living with Mosaic Down syndrome, Charlotte understands all too well the worries of people living with a disability when it comes to going out and socialising, especially on a busy Saturday evening.

Charlotte said: “I wanted to help people make new friends and have fun together in a safe and secure environment so I applied for the £300 grant and we’ve now held two disco nights at Walkabout in Lichfield. The pub kindly allowed us to use the venue for free but we needed the money to pay for SiA licenced door staff and a DJ.

“The first disco took place in August where 20 people who wouldn’t normally venture into town had a fabulous time. Obviously, the word got around because the disco we held in November attracted 46 people, so we’re really looking forward to seeing how many come along to our future events.

“As well as the grant from YouCan, we’ve also managed to secure some extra funding from four Lichfield councillors that has helped us to plan ahead and organise disco party nights throughout the year.”

Charlotte has been lucky enough to secure a place at this year’s London Marathon where she hopes to smash last year’s time of 6 hours 38 minutes saying: “I’ve been training hard and am aiming for five hours this time. The money I raise will go to Mencap’s Shine project that helps people with a disability find work.

“When I left college I gained a place on the scheme which helped me to find a job. I work at Tesco now and really enjoy it – having a job means that I can pay my way and makes me feel really valued– the help they gave me was so important and I want other people to be able to benefit the way I have.”

To find out more about Charlotte, you can read her story on Mencap’s website.

If Charlotte’ story has sparked something in you, why not apply for your very own YouCan grant here.