Give A Day and help yourself

Andy Fearon
Give A Day To The City founder


Merrick Life spoke to Andy Fearon about the hugely successful Give A Day To The City project that every year sees hundreds of volunteers use their time to help communities in Carlisle. It’s a model now being adopted in other parts of the UK.

What is Give A Day To The City?

Give A Day is a super simple concept where we invite people to give away for one day whatever is in their hand. We are brokers of generosity, matching up passionate people with projects that need help.

How and when did it start?

We are now coming into our fourth year (July 2-8). It’s been a long held dream but only really got started when Carlisle Ambassadors helped provide a launch pad. It started small with a project led by Paul Rheinbach from More Handles, a great local company, in a community centre that needed a clear out and repaint.

How many people are involved and what kind of projects are they working on this year?

Over the last three years we estimate around 1,000 people have been involved and more than 60 projects completed. For this year we have a varied list of projects, such as helping a school clear away concrete and replace it with turf, working with Carlisle carers and helping clear out an allotment, working with the NHS helping to celebrate their 70th birthday, renovating the men’s hostel garden, these are just some of the projects.
Also Give A Day is also a signpost to help people get connected to things like the Great Cumbrian litter pick and the Weeping Window poppy event at the castle.

Who gets involved?

We have young and old, able and less able, professional, retired. If you are for the city then Give A Day is for you.
Similarly, it’s also the best team building day. Many companies encourage employees to work on charitable projects and with us you can be involved in something way bigger.

Do you need special skills to work on a project?

No, however if you do have a special gift or super power we will hopefully be able to get you connected to a project that needs you.
We don’t want your money, we want your hearts and hands.

What makes Give A Day special?

There is something beautiful about being part of something bigger than yourself, something seems to come alive within us when we give of our time. Also working alongside people we don’t normally work with is a joy. Everybody wins in Give A Day.

What’s the reaction from those who’ve received help from Give A Day?

There are some beautiful stories of people just overwhelmed by the outpouring of generosity towards them. I know for some of the people we helped after the floods, we really made a big impact. Through Give A Day, people experience a profound sense that they are not alone, that they are seen and they matter.

Have other cities and communities learned from Give A Day in Carlisle?

Yes, Dungannon, Ayr and Copeland have started and now Cardiff and other places are interested in starting something next year. It’s all rather unexpected and exciting.

What’s your ambition for Give A Day?

The model of Give A Day is that we have a small budget (around £6,000) to make everything happen. Around half of this is towards staff costs. As we have a small team who work only part-time we don’t have many overheads. Therefore this model would enable Give A Day to happen in the richest and poorest cities around the world.

What would you say to someone who was thinking about getting involved but wasn’t sure how to go about it?

So get signed up and get involved.

Or who maybe wants to start their own Give A Day where they live?

Start a project, we will help you in whatever way we can but go for it. We are never afraid to start small.

Want to know more? Find out here.

On the subject of businesses giving we recently wrote about Kim Kardashian.



Picture of Andy Fearon courtesy of Linda Bussey