Pioneering project launched for young Neurodivergent people

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

Holly Knight, 22, 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 who has experience of being neurodivergent, and will cover a range of topics prevalent among young people with ADHD, autism or other Neurodivergent conditions. Topics include: jobs and careers, relationships, physical and mental self-care, life skills and coping tools and techniques.

Holly Knight has launched Live Grow Thrive aimed at young Neurodivergent people aged between 18-25.

Holly 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 in your life when you’re moving out of the family home and you 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 that 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 isn’t always suitable. This initiative is tailored around the real issues and struggles young people are facing.”

Celebrate Difference is a social enterprise which promotes 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 mom’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 about that, and 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.

“I’m in a really privileged position where I am able to grow my professional qualities and as a person in such a supportive environment at Celebrate Difference, and we want to expand this to more young people too.”

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

Corinne Walton, a local AAP coordinator, said: “The Derwent Valley partnership is delighted to be supporting Celebrate Difference to deliver its Learn Grow Thrive project. This is an extremely worthwhile initiative for our local neurodivergent young people who are looking for support to build their confidence and develop their life skills.

“We know that young people with complex needs face many barriers to accessing training and employment, be we are sure that these can be overcome with the help of Celebrate Difference.”

The Live Grow Thrive sessions will run on the fourth Friday of each month at The HUB Consett between 2.30pm-5pm. Details of the first event on Friday, May 24, are here:

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