Friday, 30 August 2013

A social group for adults with Asperger Syndrome in Somerset receives funding boost

The Yeovil Pub Hub has been running successfully covering the South Somerset area for more than eight years but has had no funding for the last 18 months.
The group is run by three volunteers, Deborah Gingell, Tara Gibson and Martin Doyle and after funding was withdrawn they continued to run the group which holds monthly meetings at a pub in Yeovil.
With no money to organise nights out such as bowling or barbecues, the volunteers applied for a competition run by local newspaper The Western Gazette.
Called the “Wish For Cash” campaign, organised by the Yeovil Round Table, entrants had to write about their club/organisation and say why they needed some funding.
The Yeovil Pub Hub was selected as one of the 30 finalists and volunteers and members then spent the next four weeks actively campaigning in the local area to raise awareness of their group.
Voting vouchers printed in the paper had to be collected with local readers voting for which group they felt most deserved the cash.
Deborah said:
“We were up against some very stiff competition with some very deserving causes and groups and we were amazed to find we had been placed in the top 10.
“As a result of collecting hundreds of votes we were told we had been awarded £400 which is a massive amount of money for our group.
“Due to the publicity we received we have also been given a kind donation of a further £100 from Shape Financial based in Stoke-sub-Hamdon which will be spent wisely and provide some fun nights out for our members.”
The Yeovil Pub Hub is a fantastic group which is regularly attended by around 20 members who meet up to enjoy a drink or a meal and enjoy a social night out.
For many it is their only form of social contact and provides a friendly and supportive atmosphere where they can go out to the pub and know they will feel secure among friends.
Some of the members and volunteers were invited to attend a special ceremony where they were presented with a cheque by the chairman of Yeovil Round Table (pictured).
Deborah Gingell, Yeovil

Wednesday, 28 August 2013


Hello everyone, my name is Orlando Bolt; I am 25 years old from West London, England. I am a professional dancer, actor, model, singer and designer. I have Asperger’s Syndrome. I was diagnosed with the condition when I was 14 years old and life for me growing was a hard one and a challenge. I am writing this because I want to share my story to others that have Asperger’s and to parents/families or carers.

I would say that the beginning of my life was a strange, difficult time in my life. As a child my world was different and interesting in my head. My world which I call now “Orlandoland” was my security and sanctuary. My family are the best. There is so much love and fun. My mum and dad gave me so much love and support growing up that I felt safe. I was very close with my baby brother, grandparents, cousins, aunties and uncles that things didn’t seem so bad and because of that I had a joyful and fun childhood.

But outside of the family unit, I felt alone, insecure and afraid. I felt like the whole world was my enemy and I found it difficult to make friends. Only certain adults I could speak to and tell them my fears.

I love performing arts and I started doing it when I was around six. I loved watching Michael and Janet Jackson when I grew up and I see Janet as a big inspiration to be. Her music has helped me through so many difficult times, struggles and obstacles. My mum enrolled me at Sylvia Young’s Drama School in 1992 on a Saturday doing Tap dance and speech therapy to help me with my speaking. Performing for me was a god send and I could express myself and be a star, forgetting those insecurities I had.

Through high school,l which was one of the most difficult times in my life, I put my energy into Art which is my natural talents and drama, music and dance.

After seeing Janet Jackson MTV ICON show, I wanted to be a performer in the future and I was determined to make that dream of mine happen.

Getting a diagnosis was hard - I remember as a kid going to a counselling session with my mum and not understanding why I was there, why I had to go and not my brother. I felt different and worthless, like I was a moron. I was frightened and angry. I hated who I was and with other tough and difficult things I was facing in my life at that moment, I kept asking myself, why is this happening to me, why is God punishing me. That’s when I started to rebel. Other kids influenced me to not good places and fell off the tracks of positive thoughts.
I understood now why I was being judged and treated differently by others and began closing into a shell. Luckily for me, the only people I could rely on or talk to was my family. My older cousins are mostly girls and they are like my older sisters and I felt comfortable talking to them about anything.

By the time I was 18,, I had more of any understanding about society and being an adult and I felt it was time to do what made me feel happy. I told my mum and dad that I wanted to performing arts and not art and design, it doesn’t make me happy. That rebellious side began to evolve even more. So I enrolled at WAC Performing Arts and Media College - it was a different experience from any other I have ever faced. I knew that if I wanted to do my own thing, I had to speak up and face my fears. I did drama and singing and for the first time, I found somewhere where I felt safe but could express myself. I loved it and I would go there without fail

Whilst I was at WAC, there were different projects for different people. One of the ones that were there was Wonder WAC, which provided projects for young people with Asperger’s and Autism throughout the spectrum.The day of my first project - I was scared and didn’t know what to expect. I was paired up with another worker on the trip to take care of a young Autistic boy over the week. He seemed as fearful  of me as I was scared of him, but after a while, I felt comfortable and this autistic vibe helped me understand him. After the trip, I wanted to know more about Asperger’s Syndrome and the aspects of it.

My dad sent me to this autistic workshop in Islington, North London, called Prospects which was run by the National Autistic Society. I met my social worker called Justin; He was nice, friendly, made bad jokes and had a real passion for me to succeed. In the beginning, Justin and I worked one-on-one to help me find employment after I quit my job. Through the sessions, I began to develop life skills and employment advice. 

I asked Justin if I could work in a special school for Autistic people, he said he would help me get my request. He thought it would be good for me. I did a work experience at the Acton Day Centre in West London for a week and experienced what Autistic and Asperger’s people who weren’t as independent as me did an on daily basis.

I found a new found respect for Autistic/Asperger’s people as well as carers and support workers. These experiences through that whole year changed my life.

Now that I had an understanding of what Asperger’s Syndrome was about and how others lived their lives, I had to fight and drive forward.. In 2007, I began starring in productions such as the musical Dreamgirls, Jim Cartwright’s play Road and feature in music videos and feature films like Doomsday and Franklyn. My parts weren’t big but I was starting out and loved every moment of it. I felt that I needed to do professional training even though I did so many short courses. If I look in my folder of certificates I have probably 10 of them woooooooooooooowwwwwww!!!!!!!

I went back to WAC on its newly accredited National Diploma course in Musical Theatre.
I was thrown into the deep end as this was training I’ve never experienced before but me being the fighter that I am, I didn’t want any hand outs or special treatment. I wanted to be a normal student and trust me I got my licks. The course had a lot of financial troubles where I had to stop and take a year out. I didn’t quit performing, I just continued and began going to open-mic nights and finding other productions to get involved with. In that time, I began meeting more people than I probably I have ever met in my life. I started promoting myself in the industry through Facebook and Twitter.

I remember doing some productions on the diploma and the feedback was amazing that I was inspiring a lot of young boys to become somebody, I didn’t really acknowledge it, and I thought people were being nice to be nice.

Now that I have finished my diploma, I have been in many productions including the London 2012 Paralympic Opening Ceremony as a dancer. Life for me is so good right now and I still work with Autistic people on projects.

I write this story as how I overcame obstacles and life experiences of what a positive outcome Asperger’s has and to be honest the lucky ones are those children who have been diagnosed very early, they have a better chance than I did. With the right people in your life, you can make mistakes and not feel bad. I just want to thank all my beautiful family and friends and enemies for making me stronger and excel into becoming a strong and happy individual.


Orlando Bolt

                                    The End.