Can Do – Leonard Cheshire Disability

Anna Dawson-Jones is the Project Coordinator in Yorkshire for Can Do, she explains more about the project that is hosted Leonard Cheshire Disability.

Describe Can Do in a paragraph
Can Do is a volunteering programme for disabled people aged 16-35, offering support, information and training, co-ordinated by Leonard Cheshire Disability.

Since 2008, we have supported thousands of young people across the UK to contribute to their local communities through volunteering opportunities. By encouraging young disabled people to volunteer, we aim to grow their confidence and independence, in the hope to improve their education and employment opportunities. The young people undertake the volunteering in groups, either as a one-off opportunity, or as part of the 8- 10 week Building Communities course which can result in a City of Guilds Certificate.

What is the background to Leonard Cheshire Disability?
Leonard Cheshire founded the charity over 60 years ago, and he was one of the first people to campaign for disability rights.

The charity now has over 3,000 volunteers without whom we could not deliver such a high standard of care. Leonard Cheshire Disability is the largest charity supporting disabled people throughout the UK and overseas. We work for a society in which every person is equally valued, and people with disability have the freedom to live their lives the way they choose, with the opportunity and support to live independently. We campaign to ensure that disabled people have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else.

What services do you provide / which projects do you deliver?
Can Do specifically works with young disabled people aged between 16-35. Our projects are bespoke to the groups we are working with however we are currently working on the following projects:

Ark Project | We are currently looking for groups of young people to help sculpt individual animals for our Ark. This is a great way to find out more about the programme by taking part in a sculpting taster session.

Canal Project | We have adopted a stretch of canal and we would love as many young people as possible to get involved either on a one-off session, or a longer 8 week building communities course. There are opportunities to get involved in wildlife conservation, gardening, researching local history, improving access for other disabled groups to name just a few. Other ideas for projects include helping local homeless charities prepare for the winter, building a wildlife garden, helping a local park.

We would love to hear your ideas so please do get in touch, email

Who is on the team?
Can Do is managed by regional coordinators, Anna Dawson-Jones is the Project Coordinator for Yorkshire.

What is the best thing about your job?
No day is the same on Can Do. One day we can be planting trees for a local park, and the next sculpting animals for an art project. The variation doesn’t stop there either as I get to work with so many varied groups from youth groups through to schools and colleges. It’s always exciting to see what projects we are going to do next, and how the young people I work with are going to improve their local area. In turn seeing how the volunteering has a positive impact on the young people is awe inspiring. What is there not to love about my job?

What is the most challenging thing about your job?
The biggest challenge in my job is finding enough volunteers for all the ideas I have. There are literally dozens of projects ready to go, and not enough young people to do them all. Once the young people take on a project they ask why they’ve not had chance before. I wish I could get everyone to at least come and try one of our taster sessions.

If you had a super-power what would it be and why?
I would love to be able to be in more than one place at the same time. I could then do everything I want to do. Although suspect it might get a bit tiring so maybe my superpower should really be to never get tired.

If you could give someone you know an award, who would it be and why would they deserve it?
Oh that’s a tricky one. There are so many people I would like to give an award to. I think though I would give the award to all the participants on Can Do who push themselves to try something new.



November 2015