Empanda celebrates Volunteers’ Week 2024

Volunteers’ Week is an annual celebration of volunteers across the UK. It’s a chance to recognise, celebrate and thank all the incredible volunteers for all they contribute to their local communities.

This year marks the 40th Anniversary of Volunteers’ Week (1-7 June) and Empanda is joining thousands of other charities and voluntary organisations in recognising the contribution our volunteering teams make.

Alison has been volunteering at Brandon Day Centre since August 2023 and enjoys all aspects of her volunteering role.

She told us, “I enjoy getting the teas and coffees ready for the customers when they come in, laying the tables and meeting new people.”


Michelle Jarrett, Brandon Day Centre Manager said, “We are indebted to all our day centre volunteers for the wonderful role they play in supporting our customers and staff teams.

Volunteering gives a real sense of purpose. Whether they are chatting and reminiscing with customers, joining in with group or individual activities, or helping with refreshments, their contribution is invaluable.

Volunteers’ Week gives us the opportunity to reflect on the vital part our volunteers play in enriching the day centre experience for our customers and for that, we are truly grateful.

On behalf of our customers and staff teams, thank you all for your time, dedication, support and for just being you.”

Empanda supports The Donkey Sanctuary

We would like to say a huge thank you to the Empanda staff team who voted to support The Donkey Sanctuary Charity with money saved by sending an e-Christmas card instead of buying and posting traditional paper cards. Staff were again given the opportunity to nominate a charity/charities close to their own hearts, and The Donkey Sanctuary received the most votes making it the outright winner.

We are delighted to be able to send a £250 donation which has meant so much to the charity.

Christine from The Donkey Sanctuary Supporter Services team said, “We would like to convey our gratitude to Empanda and to all the staff for voting for the donkeys and for your generous donation. As a charity funded only by donations, this kind gift is incredibly valuable in bringing peace to these beautiful animals. Empanda’s kind gift will truly make such a difference to donkeys and mules with a safe and loving home at one of our regional sanctuaries, or in a dedicated Donkey Guardian home. Thanks to Empanda, we can continue to rescue these wonderful animals from appalling conditions across the UK and give them the care and treatment they need to thrive and lead healthy, happy lives. This £250 support will also enable us to extend our international outreach and improve the welfare of working donkeys and mules in some of the world’s poorest communities. Together, we can really make a difference to these wonderful animals and give them a brighter future wherever they are

Click here to find out more about the tremendous work being done at The Donkey Sanctuary and how you can help support them.

Celebrating Volunteers’ Week – 2023

2023 marks the 39th year of Volunteers’ Week (1-7 June), when Empanda will join thousands of charities and voluntary organisations recognising the contribution volunteers make across the UK. With this year’s theme of ‘Celebrate and Inspire’ we hope to encourage people to be the change that we want to see and get involved in volunteering in whatever way works for them.

The contribution of volunteers is often unseen and unrecognised by many, visible only through the incredible impact of their volunteering, so taking the time during Volunteers’ Week to celebrate their efforts and all they contribute to our local communities, the voluntary sector and society as a whole has never been more important. 

Vinnie, who lives in Attleborough at one of Empanda’s supported living services for adults with a learning disability, volunteers at Brandon Day Centre. He said, “I love volunteering at Brandon Day Centre in the garden as it gets me out of the house and I get to meet new people which has a positive effect on my mental health. It also keeps me out of trouble because I am fully occupied and happy.”

Linda Robinson, Manager at All Hallows Day Centre said, “All our volunteers are great ambassadors to our centre. It is lovely to see their happy faces each week and to watch them sharing their own skills and knowledge with everyone, taking part in activities such as playing scrabble, gardening, baking, armchair exercises and lots more.

I would also like give a big mention to our PAT (Pets as Therapy) dogs. Our customers love to see Maisie and Minty visiting the centre. They particularly like Minty sitting on their laps and being able to give her lots of cuddles.

All our volunteers are a valued part of our team. We really appreciate all the help they give us and cannot thank them enough for their generosity and for giving up their free time to help us.”

Empanda supports Crisis at Christmas

We would like to say a huge thank you to the Empanda staff team who voted to support Crisis Charity with money saved by sending an e-Christmas card instead of buying and posting traditional paper cards. Staff were again given the opportunity to nominate a charity/charities close to their own hearts, and Crisis received the most votes making it the outright winner.

We are delighted to be able to send a £200 donation which has meant so much to the charity.

Becky from the Crisis fundraising team said, “Thank you so much for fundraising for Crisis. Your £200 will help someone take the next step towards a brighter future.

As more people face the prospect of losing their home, your support will help us continue to be there, side by side with people, every step of the way, until everyone in our society has a place they can call home.

Sadly, right now, over 220,000 families and individuals are still experiencing the worst forms of homelessness, including sleeping on our streets or living in unsuitable temporary accommodation.

Your generous donation will support our year-round work, preventing people from becoming homeless, or by supporting them to leave homelessness behind. We’re helping people find work, with specialist teams who connect them with employers and through CV and interview skills advice, as well as providing a range of training courses and classes.

We can only do all this with your help. Thank you for standing with us and supporting our cause to end all forms of homelessness, our work is only made possible by the generosity of people like you.”

Click here to find out more about the tremendous work being done every day at Crisis and how you can help support them.

A royal farewell from All Hallows Day Centre

Suffolk County Council Adult Services have commended Empanda and our care staff for opening All Hallows Day Centre on the public holiday to mark the funeral of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II.

When we heard the tragic news of her passing and the decision to make the day of her funeral a public holiday, we were concerned that our day care customers would be home alone as day care traditionally closes on public holidays.

When the idea to open was presented to our staff team, we were inundated with volunteers from All Hallows Day Centre who were willing to forego their own plans to provide comfort and company for those who needed it.

Four customers attended and we were able to offer a home-to-home transport service for those who needed it. The local taxi driver also gave his services on the day.

Our customers, supported by three staff members watched the morning’s proceedings on the big screen, before having a nice lunch and afternoon activities.

Here’s what some of our customers had to say:

Trina and Bryan

Coming in today meant I was able to watch the Queen’s funeral with my friends and staff. It was good to be with other people.”

Linda, Bryan’s wife and carer said, “It was helpful for Bryan to attend on this public holiday because I have recently had an operation, so it enabled me to have a rest day to aid my recovery, I felt that a weight had been taken off my shoulders in the knowledge that he was safe and being well looked after.”


She added, “I find that when Bryan returns home from day care, he’s always more alert and we both have more to chat about our day.”



“I’m glad I came. I enjoyed myself and have had a lovely day.”




Norman also came in for the day and his wife Rae told us, “It was invaluable for me to have time off from caring for my husband. It gave me the opportunity to be able to watch the Queen’s funeral without any interruptions.”

100-year-old Hilda said, “I very much appreciated the opportunity to come and watch the Queen’s funeral with others. I also really enjoyed my two-course lunch.”

Sally Hanlin, managing director said, “This has been a very difficult time for everyone, particularly older people. For many customers using our day care services, her late Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, had been a constant presence in their lives, from her accession to the throne in 1952, her coronation in 1953, until her passing on 8 September. We wanted to give people, particularly those living on their own, the opportunity to come into the day centre to watch the funeral with their friends and supported by staff, share memories or simply watch in silence with their own thoughts, knowing they were not alone in their grief. We are indebted to our All Hallows care team for going above and beyond.”

On behalf of Empanda, we would like to say a huge thank you not only to the All Hallows team but to all our other colleagues who worked throughout the day, as they do on every bank holiday, supporting our customers in our young people’s services and services for adults with a learning disability. We are indebted to you all.

Empanda signs up to easyfundraising

We are delighted to be signed up to easyfundraising, a free fundraising platform that allows us to earn money when we shop online to help pay for entertainment, outings and equipment for our services and those who use them.

easyfundraising works with over 7,000 online retailers – everyone from Tesco, Amazon, eBay, Sports Direct, M&S, Deliveroo, Just Eat, Booking.com, and everything in between, including household utility providers like BT and Vodafone (visit the easyfundraising website for a complete list of participating retailers).

Now we’re registered with easyfundraising, you can help us for FREE. Online retailers will donate to our cause when you use easyfundraising to shop with them – at no extra cost to yourself! All you need to do is sign up and remember to use easyfundraising whenever you shop online. It’s easy and completely FREE! These donations really mount up, so please help by registering yourself today, it only takes two minutes and all you need is your email address. Please share with your family and friends as donations can be made for both business and personal purchases.

It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3…

1. Go to https://www.easyfundraising.org.uk/causes/empanda-care/ and join for free.
2. Every time you shop online, go to easyfundraising first to find the site you want and start shopping.
3. After you’ve checked out, the retailer will make a donation to Empanda Care & Support at no extra cost to you whatsoever!

There are no catches or hidden charges and we will be really grateful for your donations.

Thank you for your support and happy shopping!

Empanda launches Employee Wellbeing initiative

We are delighted to announce the launch of Empanda’s latest initiative in our ‘We Value You’ package of benefits for staff – Employee Wellbeing.

We believe that a supportive and happy work environment is critical to the success of any business and have recently appointed a part-time Employee Wellbeing Manager, Adele (pictured left), who will help us take this exciting new initiative forward and ensure that everyone we employ has access to a range of support and information to boost their mental and physical wellbeing.

Working in partnership with Norwich based workplace health provider Thriving Workplaces, who are commissioned by Norfolk County Council, we will be creating and developing a range of support, information, advice and initiatives specifically aimed at helping our staff teams to improve their mental and physical wellbeing and to help us create and maintain a happy, healthy workplace.

Based on the nationally recognised ‘Workplace Wellbeing Charter’ developed by UK Health Security Agency (formerly Public Health England), Thriving Workplaces have adopted eight standards covering a range of topics and we have chosen three of these standards on which to focus – Mental Health and Wellbeing, Workplace Culture and Physical Activity.

To help shape our health and wellbeing plans, our first steps will be to complete a workplace health assessment with Thriving Workplaces and to roll out our anonymous 2022 Staff Survey, which will give staff the opportunity to answer some wellbeing related questions, the results of which will help the organisation understand and ultimately support their mental and physical wellbeing into the future. Adele is also keen to get out and about to speak with managers and staff across the organisation to share her plans and thoughts. More importantly, she will be listening to what our staff teams have to say to help her gain a greater understanding of ideas and expectations which in turn, will help shape and develop her role and our focus moving forward.

Over time, our aim is to recruit Wellbeing Champions across the business to support Adele and we are developing a suite of ‘wellbeing’ policies and guidance.

Sally Hanlin, Empanda’s managing director said, “We are really excited to be launching this new initiative as part of our ‘We value you’ suite of benefits because we recognise the importance of positive mental and physical wellbeing and the difference it can make in the workplace. Having a dedicated Employee Wellbeing Manager means we will be able to do so much more to support our greatest asset, our employees, and further demonstrates the importance we place on the wellbeing of our staff team. As a member of a local Credit Union, Eastern Savings & Loans, we already have a facility in place to support our staff and volunteers with their financial wellbeing. This new initiative not only complements what we already have in place but enables us to take a more holistic approach to wellbeing.”

Zak Collen from Thriving Workplaces added, “We’re very excited to be working with Empanda, who are not just committed to making a difference in the local community with care and support services, but to making a positive change for their employees too. From our initial conversations, it was clear that Empanda are focused on looking after their staff’s wellbeing and promoting awareness around both physical and mental health issues in the workplace. We’re looking forward to using our resources and experience to help train employees in various areas from Mental Health First Aid to Health Champion Courses. Furthermore, in helping to implement various policies and guidance to support Empanda’s already growing staff wellbeing offer and looking after their employee’s health further.”

click here to learn more about the support Thriving Workplaces can give to Norfolk based businesses.

Celebrating Volunteers’ Week – 2022

Each year, the first week of June marks Volunteers’ Week and a time to say thank you and to recognise the valuable contribution volunteers make within communities across the UK.

2022 celebrates the 38th annual Volunteers’ Week and is a particularly poignant as it also marks the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.

During what has been another exceptionally difficult year, people from all walks of life around the UK have taken the time to volunteer and have made a huge difference to people and their communities – just as they do every year.

In 2021, intermittent periods of closure at our two day care centres (All Hallows in Ditchingham near Bungay and Brandon Day Centre) in line with strict government guidelines within the care environment, meant we were unable to accept visitors into our services, including volunteers. Fortunately, with restrictions eased, we are now getting back to normal and have been able once again, to welcome our team of volunteers.

Sally Hanlin, managing director said, “We continue to be indebted to our fantastic team of volunteers who give their time to support the customers using our services and our staff teams. We are delighted to be supporting Volunteers’ Week again this year – it gives us an opportunity to focus our attention on and to recognise the difference our volunteers make, not only within Empanda, but to the many people using our services, and for that we are truly grateful.”

Empanda’s Young People’s Services receive wellbeing and counselling top-up grant

Much needed counselling and wellbeing sessions tailored to the needs of the young people living at our Young People’s Services projects, are set to continue thanks to the generosity of the East of England Charity, Hopestead.

Hopestead, Flagship Group’s own charity, have been supporting Empanda since June 2021, when they awarded a Wellbeing and Counselling Grant of £5,000 enabling us to restart our exhausted Wellbeing and Counselling Fund (previously supported by Norfolk Community Foundation Trust). This latest award of £3,500 comes in the form of top-up funding to the initial grant received last summer.

At our three young people’s projects in North Norfolk, we provide a home to 26 homeless young people aged between 16-25 at any one time. Whilst they are with us, we support them to gain the skills needed to live independently and then support them to move on to live in more independent accommodation. To help the smooth transition into independent living, good mental health is vitally important as it helps give the stability they need to enable them to maintain their tenancy into the future.

Access to counselling and mental health services is at crisis point, with waiting lists through the local NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) being months or longer and GPs are only able to offer a telephone wellbeing service, also with a long waiting list. Many of the young people using our services have experienced some type of trauma in the past, often family related which has had a lasting impact on their mental health, wellbeing and sense of worth.

This funding will allow more of our young people the opportunity to get the support they need through specialist privately funded 1:1 counselling and in-house therapy sessions which, thanks to the original grant, many are already benefiting from.

Julia Everson, Head of Operations at Hopestead said, “We know that it is only through working together that we can make homelessness a rare, brief, and non-reoccurring event in people’s lives. Through our Hope Funds grant scheme, we are proud to support the great initiatives provided by our partners, like Empanda’s Counselling & Wellbeing Grant that makes such a vital difference to young people in our community and alleviates homelessness in our region.”

Fiona Raison, Manager of Empanda’s Young People’s Services said, “Hopestead’s grants for our Counselling and Wellbeing Fund is invaluable to our Empanda YPS residents. Many of our young people suffer from poor mental wellbeing as well as PTSD and other issues. We are so grateful to be able to offer them this essential help that would otherwise be unavailable.”

click here to find out more about the invaluable projects Hopestead is supporting.

Empanda celebrates its 6th Anniversary

Today marks Empanda’s sixth Anniversary. We can’t believe how the time has flown – it seems like only yesterday we were a fledgling organisation embarking on our new venture.

We are indebted to our fantastic staff team, our volunteers and our Board. Through their hard work, unwavering support and dedication, they continue to make a huge difference to the lives of so many people every day and without doubt, have played a major part in Empanda’s success. We would also like to thank the many partners with whom we work.

We are very much looking forward to continuing our journey together and to seeing what this coming year brings.