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Entrepreneurial. Action. Us. Enactus is the innovative entrepreneurial society on campus taking action with local people to improve their prospects in the workplace. This academic year, the society is running four different projects that aim to make a difference and better lives. ‘Project Difference: Enabled’ are looking for some volunteers to help out with their inspiring mentoring scheme, which aims to give autistic people in the local area the opportunity to develop their skills in the workplace and to gain some paid work experience.
‘The aims, really, are to give young autistic people the chance to develop skills and to help them to help themselves’ are the encouraging words of team member Andrew Fletcher. Currently the team is working to set up a small business on campus to offer autistic beneficiaries the opportunity to gain some experience in a workplace, either face-to-face with the public, or ‘behind the scenes’. Plans for this business venture, which will be a grab-and-go salad bar, are well underway. The team are in talks with LUSU about occupying a physical unit on campus or having a stall in Alex Square. Profits will go back into the project’s funding for things like mentoring training, transport costs and workshops.
Mentees from local and surrounding areas will be at various stages on the autistic spectrum, so mentors will be expected to tailor their relationship accordingly – adapting to beneficiaries’ needs and what they want to get out of the programme. The main role for volunteers will be in mentoring – helping autistic people to build up confidence and life skills for the future, one of Enactus’s key aims as an organisation. This is particularly important for the 61% of autistic individuals hoping to find work in the Lancashire area, as it will give them a platform to boost their career prospects. It is up to individuals here at the uni, however, to make this a reality, and the society is looking for motivated, friendly and dedicated people who want to make a change.
Training will be provided by the mentoring team of ‘Project Difference: Enabled’. Fletcher highlighted how sessions will cover some general pointers for a successful relationship, but the main thing volunteers should be concentrating on is helping young people to help themselves and harness the best skills possible. Mentors will be expected to meet up with their mentee for 1-2 hours per week – it may be the case that you travel to meet, or you find a comfy place in town to have a chat about their progress. Enactus’ funding will cover additional transport costs and the mentoring team of ‘Difference: Enabled’ is there to support your partnership as you move through the process.
This is a golden opportunity for anyone interested in helping out in the community, who wants to make a big difference to the lives of local people. The programme will offer you a chance to develop your own people skills and bring something really exciting to the table on your CV, but more importantly to a group of people who will really appreciate the support and opportunity. If you are interested in getting involved with the scheme, or know of anybody who could benefit in the Lancaster/Morecambe or Preston area, please don’t hesitate to contact the ‘Difference: Enabled’ team at firstname.lastname@example.org, or for more information, have a look at their website: http://differenceenabled.com/home.html.