Demi became homeless due to having to leave the family home through no fault of her own, as she had nowhere safe to stay. She lived with St Basils at Mildenhall House in Solihull for a year before moving on to another St Basils scheme in Erdington.
“I feel St Basils alleviated a lot of the initial barriers I’d had that were preventing me pursuing my goals and dreams. I’m autistic and before I came to St Basils I struggled with travelling and was very anxious about not having a solid place to stay and would just worry in general, whereas once St Basils helped me and I had a place at Mildenhall I felt much more secure, the staff were really supportive, my progression coach was brilliant and all that alleviated a lot of my other worries.”
St Basils Placements Officer Kash and Progression Coach Levena encouraged Demi to apply for the Bears Bursary grant to assist with some of the financial barriers she was also experiencing.
“I’m now studying film and animation at University. One of the things I needed in order to do the course was a laptop and I didn’t have one. I also needed various different types of software in order to be able to complete my coursework including photoshop and other design packages, and especially this year with the full time move to e-learning, I wouldn’t have been able to do the course without a laptop of my own so it was great to have the grant in order to be able to purchase a laptop and the software I needed.”
Part of the offer from Edgbaston Foundation also included completing voluntary work with the charity to get some hands-on experience and find out more about what else the club does to support the wider community. Under normal circumstances the charity runs social impact projects often in collaboration with other charities and organisations both at locations within the community and at Edgbaston Stadium. Due to coronavirus Demi hasn’t been able to assist them much this year but she did get involved in a number of projects last year. This included ‘Full Circle Cricket’ to reduce isolation and improve mobility and wellbeing in care homes and ‘Roaring Lions’ a social club for children with disabilities, under the care of Birmingham Children’s Trust, who wouldn’t otherwise be able to socialise. Demi also helped out as a volunteer on match days assisting the club’s staff with fan engagement.
“It was a very varied experience and I really learnt a lot. Most of all it really helped me with my social and communications skills, as being autistic these are two areas where I have struggled. These experiences have really helped me come out my shell, my confidence has really grown and I’m able to communicate better which are skills I will need for the working world and so this has greatly aided me!”
In fact as part of their fundraising partnership with St Basils the club hosted a sponsored Sleepout event at Edgbaston Stadium, where Demi was invited to make a speech to share her own experiences of becoming homeless and what support helped her. She says she was really nervous, but she did it!
Demi has applied to do an Apprenticeship once she graduates with SEGA in London as well as another Games development company closer to Birmingham and this is the career she is hoping to go into.
When asked what she would like to say to Warwickshire County Cricket Club, Edgbaston Foundation and the Bears Bursary grantmakers. Demi said;
“I just want to say Thank you! I can’t really express how much gratitude I feel towards the Bears Bursary grant makers and also St Basils. You’ve changed my life for the better!”
Feedback from Edgbaston Foundation
Ravi Masih, who heads up Edgbaston Foundation said:
“As the first ever recipient of the Bears Bursary – Demi exemplifies exactly what we had set out to achieve. We saw a young person with a ton of promise that just needed that little bit of support to flourish.. The fact that her skills and confidence have grown as a result of the important role she has played in supporting our programmes shows that it is a two way process. Having been a part of Demi’s university experience, we are excited to see her take the next step onto the career ladder. When that happens, the purpose of the Bears Bursary will truly come to fruition. I can’t express how proud we are to have seen Demi develop over the last 3 years.”
A year ago, half way through the grant process, Demi was interviewed on how it was going by the Edgbaston Foundation: