Maria Miller, the Minister for Disabled People, has opened ‘Leanne’s Lift’ at Cannock-based Newlife’s Opportunity Centre, opening up work opportunities to disabled and elderly volunteers who could not have easily accessed the centre before. The Opportunity Centre opened in 2008 and every week over 50 volunteers work a total of 200 hours completing a variety of important tasks to help the charity. Leanne’s lift should enable a further 20 volunteers with mobility problems the chance to volunteer, bringing total numbers up to 70 per week. The lift is named after a previous volunteer, Leanne. Leanne suffered from Downs Syndrome and a chronic heart condition and before she visited the Opportunity Centre she was uncommunicative and depressed. However, once she started to visit the Centre her confidence grew and her support worker remarked that it was the only place where she smiled. The one thing that dampened her experience was her struggle in climbing the steep stairs and she would need support from two people either side of her which she found quite stressful. Sadly, Leanne passed away in December last year before the lift could be installed so it has been named in her memory and leaves a lasting legacy to her voluntary work at Newlife. Leanne’s mother, Eileen, has now begun to volunteer and continue Leanne’s good work for Newlife. DWP Minister for Disabled People, Maria Miller, said: “It’s been great to meet people at the Newlife centre today and see first hand the fantastic work that volunteers do to make a difference. I’m sure that the new lift, in memory of Leanne, will give more disabled people in Cannock the chance to get involved with Newlife so that they can also develop skills, gain valuable work experience and enjoy volunteering.” Newlife wishes to thank Awards for All and Access to Volunteering for their generous donations to ensure this essential lift became a reality.