Demi came to St Basils due to having to leave her previous accommodation through no fault of her own, as she had nowhere safe to stay.
Initially Demi stayed at a St Basils scheme in Solihull.
“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 housed me, 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 staff encouraged Demi to apply for the newly launched Bears Bursary grant from the Edgbaston Foundation to assist with some of the financial barriers she was also experiencing. She was successful in being the first chosen recipient of this grant, which included both financial assistance and work experience opportunities.
“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 and helped out as a volunteer on match days.
“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!”
Demi now hopes to go onto a career in game development and is looking into a number of opportunities in this field.
“I just want to say ‘Thank you!’ I can’t really express how much gratitude I feel towards St Basils and the Bears Bursary grant makers. You’ve changed my life for the better!”