Romsey Mill’s Aspire team has supported George for ten years, through his transition from primary to secondary school; and then on into Sixth form. He’s now 19 and has just completed his first year at Anglia Ruskin University, studying software engineering, a 4-year course that will include a year in industry.  

As George’s time attending Aspire was coming to an end we asked him to tell us about the difference that this support has made over the last ten years: 

George said:  

“When I came to my first Aspire youth club, I was nervous. I didn’t know anyone and I was a bit shy at that age. I soon settled in and loved regularly coming along and enjoying various activities with other young people, such as on the games consoles and Uno. I am quite a sporty person and really enjoyed football, table tennis, basketball and pool with others at the youth club. We also did trips to Grafham Water and ten-pin bowling. 

“I have made lots of new friends over the years at Aspire. I am less shy in public and my social skills have improved as well. At university, I can speak with students and lecturers and I am learning to become more independent. I feel like it is much easier to communicate and interact with others now compared to when I started at Aspire.” 

To mark the end of his time at Aspire, George and the other young people who were leaving this summer, went on an outing, to go bowling and have a meal together. A photograph of ten-year old George enjoying a previous Aspire bowling trip has been displayed in the foyer at Romsey Mill Centre for the last few years. Here is picture showing George now, with that ten-year old photo, as he leaves Aspire. 

 George ten years on


George’s mum, Sarah, took part in Romsey Mills 24 Peaks fundraising challenge in the Lake District in 2014, to raise money for the work of Aspire.  

Sarah recently told us:  

“George has absolutely loved his time attending Aspire and has really developed and progressed in terms of his social skills. I’m not sure he would have had a meaningful friendship if it wasn’t for Aspire. He has been making his own way to Aspire for the past few years, by bike, train or on the guided bus - something that we never imagined possible.

"Over the past 2-3 years he has had the confidence to meet one friend in particular outside of the comfort and safety of Aspire, which is really positive and so encouraging for the future. He comes along to a running group with me now and doesn't need me to introduce him or speak on his behalf as he manages that really well, by himself. None of this would have been possible without him having a safe place where he has been nurtured and allowed to blossom in his own time without any pressure.

"We cannot thank the Aspire team at Romsey Mill enough for your support and encouragement, and for your acceptance of young people with differences, however they may present.” 

George has now become a volunteer with a younger Aspire group since the start of the autumn term.

He told us: “I have enjoyed attending Aspire over the years and I think that by volunteering, it will be a good way to give back.”