Emily’s story

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My name is Emily, I’m 16 years old. I have always struggled with school at how to manage in big groups and not knowing what was going to happen.

In primary school I was bullied for being different because I have ASD, dyspraxia and hyper mobility. I also developed Anxiety and was struggling every day. By the time I started secondary school I found it almost impossible to deal with lots more students and having to move between classrooms that had different teachers each time. Thankfully my mum noticed and took me out before things got too bad.

My mum found the Rendezvous centre in Sherborne, with Julie [Bartle] and her team. I started attending the centre just before I turned 13 where I went once a week for Math and English tutoring one to one.

At the beginning it was frightening and I didn’t even want to ring the doorbell. Julie was really friendly and was very supportive, she talked with my mum to find out what the best ways to support and encourage me were.

Over time with the kindness from the tutors that I had, they have helped me to become confident and I started to enjoy and look forward to learning each week. The main reason I originally attended was to hopefully achieve Maths and English qualifications which I have successfully achieved in both level 1+2.

Although the centre has helped me massively to achieve my qualifications they have became so much more. They became a safe place and I developed so many new friendships with other students and the tutors, who were interested in more than just teaching but also finding out what my dreams were and encouraging me to go for them.

At first the thought of having to do the English presentation for Level 1+2 exams was scary. I was never good at looking people in the eye and always struggled with the thought of people watching me. But my tutors, Anton and Helen, found ways round that and they made it possible and something that I could achieve with support and by putting strategies in place.

They supported me through the pandemic and we still had fun learning even though we were unable to attend the centre in person and it had to be online. I also had an amazing relationship with my math teacher Mandy as we always had a laugh and she has shown me that Maths isn’t as scary as it looks and that I am actually quite good at it. Through the centre I also found an amazing volunteer support worker called Sam. She has helped me to thrive in myself and has helped me to not be so scared to try new things.

Through all the support the centre has given especially Julie, my tutors Helen, Anton and Mandy and the counsellors Sam and Jemma I have found my worth. I have gained confidence in myself and my work and have managed to pass both my Maths + English exams which I need in the future. I am now moving forward with my life and going to college for a dream that I always wanted but never thought I could have but with the help of the Rendezvous I was able to achieve that and I couldn’t be happier.

Note: Because we want her to be able to get on with her life in private Emily is not her real name and that’s not her picture (though in real life she looks as happy as the girl in the photo)  but the story is real and the words come straight from ‘Emily’ herself.