01/10/10

By Claire West

Office workers are spearheading the UK’s first ever charity swapathon to help some of the world’s most disadvantaged people.

Volunteer co-ordinators at workplaces across the country will hold a SwapIt event in a bid to raise £1m to support disability rights both in the UK and overseas.

Participants will donate £5 for a stamp to swap experiences or physical items with their colleagues, having fun in the run-up to Christmas.

The ground-breaking Stamp and Swap day coincides with Friday 3 December 2010, the United Nations International Day of Disabled People.

“Great things start with a little give and take and so we want as many people as possible to join in, help out and start swapping,” said Sarah Sandon, Director of Fundraising and Communications at UK-based ADD International, the charity behind the campaign. “Co-ordinators can ensure their companies literally put a stamp on a completely new and absolutely vital campaign which we expect to grow as an annual event on the calendar.

“What you choose to swap is entirely up to you. You could be the boss for the day, swap some essential skills with your workmates or exchange books, DVDs, plants or fashion accessories.

“The key is to have fun while supporting the rights of disabled people, some of whom are the most neglected people in the world, living in extreme conditions of poverty.”

ADD International and partners that include UK disability organisations RADAR and the National Centre for Independent Living are calling for volunteers to raise awareness of Stamp and Swap and organise a SwapIt event at their workplaces.

A comprehensive campaign co-ordinators’ pack, downloadable from the campaign site www.stampandswap.org, can be tailored to reflect the volunteer’s own company branding. The pack includes posters, PowerPoint and press release templates and tips to make the most of the campaign internally and externally.

ADD International research shows that a single £5 donation can make a real difference, especially to disabled people in the poorest countries many of whom cannot afford the transport costs to access basic healthcare. In Uganda, for example, £5 could pay for two disabled people to attend a workshop on HIV prevention. It could also pay for a training workshop in disability rights.

Amazingly, many disabled people living in remote areas of Africa and Asia believe they are the only disabled person in the world and that they have no rights at all. ADD-funded training gives them the knowledge and confidence they need to ask for the rights they are routinely denied.

For more information, contact ADD International on 01373 473064, visit www.stampandswap.org or follow the campaign on Twitter and Facebook.