James & his Mum Claire

  “I like cooking at the Reach Cafe” - James

“It was a miraculous turnaround – just a little bit of one to one attention motivated him”

“My son James has been part of the Reach family since he left school at 18. After two years at college he needed more to do. He loved his work experience at Gannet’s Café, so Chantelle, the Newark Centre Manager, suggested that James helped at the new Reach Café.

James has thrived there – he meets and greets, and with support he takes orders, prepares food and bakes cakes. He takes it very seriously, and it gives him a sense of responsibility when he tells us he is going to work.

He is a sociable person, and likes to be doing things, to feel he is in charge, and the café gives him all of that. He now sees the point of reading and writing and knowing what the time is too.

So lockdown came as a real blow to James. After a few weeks, he only came out of his room to eat meals, and wouldn’t join the Reach Zoom meetings.

Normally he is really active – always playing cricket and football, and power lifting at the gym. He has autism and Down’s syndrome, and lockdown seemed to exacerbate his autistic tendencies.

We were so worried that I contacted Chantelle to ask if Reach could help. They arranged to take James out once a week, and to do two individual Zoom meetings every week. That was just enough to boost his self-esteem, and now he is a master at Zoom, and does it independently. It was a miraculous turnaround – just a little bit of one to one attention motivated him.”

Claire Hunsley, mother of James, 21

Full case study prepared by Beryl Pettit (volunteer) and Claire

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