Changing lives while transforming your own

Mark is 14 years old and has autism and learning disabilities.

He faces many social, emotional and sensory processing barriers and has been failed by systems put in place to support him on numerous occasions, which have helped to contribute to his low self-esteem and high levels of anxiety.

Mark Sports, arts and entertainment LDA Leaders' List 2018

That was, until a year ago, when he became a young volunteer with a Bolton based charity called Breaking Barriers NW, founded in 2012 by parents of disabled children who were fed up with the lack of services and provision for children and young people with additional requirements.

Since Mark got involved he has shone and flourished as an enthusiastic, kind, caring and understanding young man.

He supports the outreach staff with activities designed to promote inclusion, raise awareness and improve physical and emotional wellbeing for other disabled children and young people aged 5-19.

Mark instinctively understands their requirements and never hesitates to get involved, support, encourage and motivate others to participate and enjoy physical activity. He has formed excellent friendships with other volunteers, as well as embodying a first class role model for the younger children who attend.

Mark is delighted to be a Leaders’ List winner. He said: “It feels great to be a winner because there were lots of other people to pick and they picked me”.

Breaking Barriers NW Project Manager Steph Sherratt, said: “He constantly receives praise from parents and carers and is adored by the children he comes into contact with.

“He has worked so hard to manage his own difficulties and is an invaluable member of the Breaking Barriers NW family, he has transformed himself from a very unsure, somewhat withdrawn child to a fabulous, confident, hard-working team member who we are very proud to have as part of the charity.”

Breaking barriers NW offer a wide range of services from listening and signposting to form filling, advice and advocacy.

You can find out more about Breaking Barriers NW at