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Maxwell sees the light thanks to NCS teens
The life of a severely disabled child from Pulborough has been made a little brighter thanks to the fundraising efforts of a group of local National Citizen Service (NCS) teenagers.
The teens, led by Brinsbury College student Hollie Cheesman, spent last summer completing the NCS programme and fundraised to buy an Opti Aura sensory projector for local child Maxwell Smith. The soothing, shape-morphing light projector is now installed at Maxwell’s home and dad Peter says his son ‘absolutely loves it’.
Maxwell, six, has a rare genetic disorder, mitochondrial Tk2d, which causes progressive weakness of his muscles. He needs round-the-clock care and cannot breathe or move without support.
“The light projector is now an important part of Maxwell’s day,” says Peter. “It’s the first thing he sees as he wakes in the morning and it soothes him to sleep at night.
“Knowing that Hollie and her teammates organised events and volunteered a large part of their summer for Maxwell’s benefit is truly inspiring. It was a great achievement. With so many expenses to cover for Maxwell’s care, any extras to help stimulate and interest him are very welcome.”
Hollie, who is 17 and from Storrington, described herself as being “the most quiet, shy person ever” before undertaking NCS. After two weeks of challenging outward bound activities and independent living tasks, she and her teammates planned social action projects including a music performance, sponge throws and selling merchandise to fundraise almost £400 for Maxwell’s projector.
“Maxwell and his family live near me and I knew we could do something positive to help,” says Hollie. “It was a challenge for me as I didn’t like speaking on the phone and it took in the region of 50 phone calls to organise all the activities, but NCS really built my confidence. I made some great new friends and we all appreciated how lucky we were to have the opportunity to try new things on NCS. I’m glad we have now given Maxwell a new experience to enjoy too.”
NCS, run regionally by Ingeus, is a leading youth empowerment programme, open to all 16 and 17 year olds, that takes place in school holidays. Social action for a local community cause or charity is an integral element.
Maxwell is the only child with mitochondrial Tk2d alive in the UK today. His family and local community fundraise tirelessly for medication, hydrotherapy, physiotherapy and specialist equipment to give Maxwell a better quality of life. ourmaxwell.org
To find out more about the NCS programme, visit wearencs.com
“We all appreciated how lucky we were to have the opportunity to try new things on NCS.”
Last minute coaching helps Mia into work
Employability support from Ingeus, including one-to-one interview prep, helped secure Mia a job.
For 19 year-old Mia Beresford from Garston, facing a job interview with a major
supermarket chain was a daunting prospect. With just one day to go, Mia’s first appointment with an Ingeus employment coach was perfect timing.
Mia found herself searching for full-time work after closely missing the required A-level grades for her university course. With various part-time work experience under her belt the determined teen set about applying for roles but struggled to make progress as she juggled her efforts with lockdown complications.
Mia’s Work Coach, Sarah Brannon at Garston Jobcentre Plus recommended the new WHP Job Entry Targeted Support (JETS) Programme, which provides one-to-one employability support geared at getting people back to work quickly during the pandemic. Ingeus delivers WHP JETS in the north west and Mia was contacted by employment coach Joanne Carter the day before her interview at Tesco Extra in Toxteth.
“I was worried about how I’d handle my interview so having someone on hand to give me some practical tips was great,” said Mia. “Joanne knew a lot about working in retail and customer service, so we went through some example interview questions and answers. We also talked about what questions I might ask at the interview which really made me think. It was a great tip and made me much more confident on the day. The interviewer even commented that I’d asked her a great question!”
Mia was successful and now works as a full-time customer service assistant in the fresh food department of the store. Joanne has also been on hand to ensure Mia’s start date and induction went smoothly.
“I’m three weeks-in and love it. I work with lots of other people my age so it’s fun, but I also feel useful and like I’m contributing at home,” concludes Mia, who lives with her mum and brother. “Christmas will certainly be much cheerier now I have a job.”
Mia is undecided whether to take up a deferred university place to study a different course next year and for now is thankful to be gaining valuable employability experience, while also helping her mum pay the household bills.
WHP JETS is a separate strand of the Work and Health Programme (WHP) and is
commissioned by the Department for Work and Pensions, with support from the European Social Fund. Ingeus supports the delivery of JETS in the North West, Greater London, Greater Manchester, the North East, and Central areas.
To find out more, visit ingenus.com/jetsnw.