Young woman shares her experiences in neurodiversity initiative

A NEW initiative directly addressing the needs of young people with neurodiversity has been launched by a young woman sharing her own personal experiences.

Twenty-two-year-old Holly Knight of County Durham-based social enterprise, Celebrate Difference, has developed the ‘Learn Grow Thrive’ project aimed at neurodivergent people aged between 18-25 ‘in response to other initiatives not meeting the requirements of a younger demographic’. With the help of £5,000 funding from Durham County Council’s Derwent Valley Area Action Partnership (AAP), the initiative invites young people to spend time with like-minded individuals at monthly sessions held at The HUB Consett.

Each session will be led by a different professional with experience of being neurodivergent, and will cover a range of topics prevalent among young people with ADHD, autism, or other neurodivergent conditions – including jobs and careers, relationships, physical and mental self-care, life skills, and coping tools and techniques.

Holly Knight joined Celebrate Difference’s sister company, MINT Business Club, three years ago through the Government’s Kickstart scheme aimed at helping people aged 16-24 into employment, before pursuing an apprenticeship with Celebrate Difference. She said: “By launching ‘Learn Grow Thrive’, we will create a community, and a nice, safe place for young people with ADHD, autism, and a range of neurodivergent conditions, to come and be themselves without fear of being judged.

“Growing up neurodivergent can be overwhelming, especially when you reach the point when you’re moving out of the family home and are faced with the realities of renting, managing money and bills, and creating and keeping healthy relationships. The sessions as part of ‘Learn Grow Thrive’ will tackle issues my peers and I are living with, and let them know there are others going through similar situations, and we can all learn from each other.

“There are many great events and initiatives out there for neurodivergent people, but young people aren’t facing the same situations, and are at different points of their lives, so some of the workshops and help aren’t always suitable. This initiative is tailored around the real issues and struggles young people are facing.”

Celebrate Difference is a social enterprise which aims to ‘promote social equity and improves the lives of people with neurodiversity through using the lived experience and empathy of team members to guide the support provided’.

Holly is sharing her personal experiences of how being associated with the organisation has significantly helped her – both professionally and personally. She said: “I moved out of my mum’s house aged 20 and I thought I was prepared, but then you realise everything comes down to you, and it’s extremely daunting and overwhelming, and it’s easy to slip out of routine, such as taking care of yourself properly. I have only recently discovered I am neurodivergent, and there is a lot to learn and take in. It’s been so helpful to share coping strategies with other people about what works for them, and what doesn’t. One of the biggest things I have noticed about being an adult is how lonely it is. It’s hard to make new friendships when you get older, and you can feel isolated, but we want to build a community where you don’t have to worry about people judging you.”

‘Live Grow Thrive’ has been made possible through funding from Derwent Valley AAP and other funders, including a £500 donation from charity NE Youth.



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