Part of being in this world is giving back to our communities

The pandemic was a lonely time for many of us. Katie, who has autism, was no exception, recognising that isolation from others during lockdowns made her feel very alone. She took the initiative and looked at ways to connect with others, finding new friends and creative passion within Aldingbourne Trust’s Creative Arts Studio.

For Katie, art has been a powerful escape that provides countless mental health benefits, from relaxation and mindfulness, to building friendships with other students. Her passion and skill resulted in Katie being offered a role as a volunteer within the studio – a task she loves.

But for Katie, the chance to volunteer isn’t simply another way to spend more time enjoying art herself. For Katie, ensuring that others are able to reap the benefits that she found in the escape of art is vital.

“As cheesy as it sounds, I wanted to make a difference.”

After receiving treatment for an eating disorder in recent years, Katie says that her life was opened up to the world again. She realised that she was passionate not just about her own exciting journey but helping others too. In fact, Katie would say that doing things for your community is an important part of looking after your own mental health.

A passionate community advocate, previously part of Asperger’s Self Advocacy Impact Initiatives, Katie has found ways within the world of art to help make a difference. Now part of the Aldingbourne Trust’s Access All Areas Co-Production Committee, Katie is able to use her voice to benefit others within the Trust and ensure that their feedback is heard.

One recent change, Katie has helped to make is to enable students to socialise more easily during breaks in the studio. Recognising one of her peers was quiet and a little isolated, Katie went of her way to lobby for time to take her fellow artist for coffee, something which has helped build a blossoming friendship between the pair and massively support their mental help.

Katie has been able to make such a significant difference that she now participates in is staff training as a ‘Recruitment Ambassador’ helping to onboard all new staff at the Trust.

“A year ago, I didn’t think I could do anything like that.”

For Katie, her experiences and challenges are an important way she can help others and inspire them to see they can really achieve anything. Making sure that the Trust environment is one of inclusivity and encouragement is a huge passion of Katie’s and one in which she is no doubt making a huge impact. It’s Katie’s hope that in using her voice, as a leader, that others recognise the power in giving to others, because it truly benefits everyone.

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For information on the Access All Areas Co-Production Committee: