Rashaun is 19 and has Autism.  He was referred by Croydon Autism Service in September 2016 to our Sport Relief Funded project Connect UP, which is all about building employability skills and confidence for young people in and around the Croydon area.  

Our CEO had a meeting with his mother who was rather concerned because he was not engaging in anything and had not expressed interest in what to do since completing school. She was very worried that he chooses not to speak very much and has difficulty forming friendships, which led to him being quite isolated and playing computer games every day while she was at work.  She said he does not travel independently, and was very concerned about him sustaining work if he ever secured a job.  We met with him and demonstrated our virtual world, and he showed some interest.  We accepted him on our programme and he started in October.

He has 2 weekly sessions with a mentor and our Learning Development Manager building 3D modelling skills, increasing his confidence, employability and IT skills. He logs in to do his extra work and complete projects to deadlines set by his learning supervisors.  He prefers to make use of the instant chat function in our campus rather than use voice, but our virtual environment is flexible and this does not preclude him from meaningful participation and when required to use voice he does so.  He enjoys using the available tools to create interesting objects and has recently joined our job club, and has signed up to our mentoring programme which will match him to an IT professional to explore possibilities and set action plan for securing work in IT.  His programme has embedded employability skills which are gained whilst he is immersed in other activity (e.g. games).  Since joining he has gained confidence and has been given opportunities to push himself outside of his comfort zone within a supportive environment.

Just a few of the achievements in such a short time included:

  1. Travelling independently to meet Autus staff at early morning meetings designed to ensure he wakes up and plans his travel to arrive on time.
  2. Showcasing his work and speaking to the Minister for London MP Gavin Barwell in December 2016. He described some of the objects he has made and explained that he needed to use his research skills to meet the objective that was set by his learning supervisor.
  3. Volunteering to attend the BETT exhibition with thousands of people at the EXCEL Centre in London, to talk about what he has learned and show his newly gained skills.  He travelled independently from Croydon to East London and handled the large crowds very well.  
  4. Signing up and completing pre-Apprenticeship course, and attending interviews for apprenticeships.

We were delighted to hear that Rashaun successfully secured an Apprenticeship which he starts in August 2017.

Our work clearly had a significant impact in a very short time, and his mother has contacted us to say how impressed she is by his improved confidence and motivation to secure work.