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August 2019



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Young couple (a man and a woman) wearing NAS t-shirts, next to purple quote with text

Among the many services the National Autistic Society offers for autistic people, the Moving Forward with Cashback for Communities programme in Scotland. It helps young autistic people who have been disadvantaged by unemployment, lack of education or training. It offers coaching, work experience opportunities, and support to apply for jobs and prepare for interviews. We caught up with Amy, a prospective college student and young autistic person on the programme, to have a chat about the project.

What were you doing before Moving Forward with CashBack for Communities?

I was supposed to go to college for a childcare course – a subject I wasn’t passionate about but felt I had to do. I had quite a bad experience at school and it put me in a dark place, having just left school I felt like I was going to be doing something else I hated. It really impacted my mental health.

How did you find out about the programme?

My mum works at a Glasgow café where one of the National Autistic Society groups meet. So, when I was getting diagnosed, my mum went over and introduced herself so that I would have support after my diagnosis and when I left school. I first met with Billy who told me about the project and encouraged me to join so I could start working towards finding something I actually wanted to do.

Most people do a work placement on the programme, but you did a college course. How did you find that and what are your plans now?

The programme helped me get onto an eye enhancements course, which involved learning how to deal with eyebrows and eyelashes, doing things like tinting and shaping. I really enjoyed it and found out that I was actually really good at it! I ended up getting 100% in my assessments, even the theory work. I now have a place on a full-time course to study make-up and beauty in August and I’m looking to get a part-time job while I study.

Some people on the programme get support from a mentor, but you were supported one-to-one by staff. How did you find this?

I’m really happy working with the staff. They’ve all continued to help me and have given me some of the best advice I could have ever asked for.

They’ve given me the confidence I needed to go and do what I wanted and have pretty much changed my life for the better.

What have you learned from the preparation for employment in terms of moving on after college?

I’ve learned how to communicate with a potential employer, received tips on how to behave during an interview, and actually have the confidence to apply for jobs in the first place. I now can update and change my CV accordingly to suit different jobs I apply for. Before I wasn’t confident with any of that!

What was the biggest benefit of doing the scheme?

The biggest benefit has been the big improvements with my mental health. I also have this new-found confidence I didn’t know I could ever have!

Tell us about the recent fundraising gig you organised…

I really wanted to say a huge thank you to the National Autistic Society for the help they have given me. My boyfriend is a musician and he had done charity gigs before, so we discussed doing that for the charity.

We got it organised and found the perfect venue which was the Ice Box Arts and Music Centre. They staff were so kind and helpful, and they had pretty much all the equipment we needed for the acts which made it easier to organise. The acts we had on were all unique and different in their own ways and helped us to almost sell out which was a first for the venue!

Not only did we do the charity gig, but Rock N Roll Tattoo also hosted a walk-in day. All the tattoos were done by apprentices, who had also designed them. The designs were all ideas relating to the autism spectrum and every penny went to the National Autistic Society!

In total we raised £1,500 from the charity gig and the tattoo walk-in day. And there’s hopefully more events and fundraising to come!

People at a music gig

Gig goers enjoying the music at Amy’s fundraising event

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