Aspire Programme

Jack's Story

Jack attended Romsey Mill’s Aspire groups for children with autistic spectrum conditions, for 9 years.

Here, he shares his thoughts about what that experience means to him, and his plans for the future. aged 19:

“I started using Romsey Mill mid-way through year 6, my final year at primary school, and they helped me through my transition from primary to secondary school, ready for year 7.”

“Unfortunately, I had a very difficult time at secondary school, with bullying. I spoke to Ruth, my youth worker from Romsey Mill, about my issues with bullying and the lack of support and she spoke to my parents about it. Together, we went to speak to my teachers at the school. If it wasn’t for Romsey Mill and my parents and the support they gave me, I highly doubt I would have stayed in school and finished my education.”

“Whilst still at school and attending my weekly Aspire group, I began volunteering at a younger group, at Ruth’s suggestion, in November 2012. To this day, I continue to volunteer at the same group, and have seen it grow and develop and help many people moving up to the next group with their transition after the summer holidays.”

“I have now completed my college course, where I studied Travel and Tourism for three years. I chose this subject as I have always enjoyed travelling and have always wanted to work in the travel and tourism industry as a commercial airline pilot, flying around the world and experiencing new places. Romsey Mill again helped me with the transition from secondary school to college.”

“They also helped me with my social skills. I enjoy talking to people when I’m out and feel more confident doing this than if I hadn’t been to regular groups at Romsey Mill. I am also much more confident in crowded and noisy situations, if I’m expecting them, than if I hadn’t been to Romsey Mill. In turn, this allows me to do more of the things I’d like to do, such as attending concerts, festivals and other crowded and noisy events.”

“Residential trips in Aspire Plus have also helped me with my social skills, because we spend longer together in a different location to the norm.”

“It is also true to say that Romsey Mill has helped me with other life skills, such as feeling more confident in dealing with money and being able to make financial transactions, like going to the shop and paying for a sandwich or going to a pub and paying for a beer – all of which I would struggle with more if I hadn’t been to Romsey Mill.”

“As I am now 19, I’m moving on from attending my weekly youth club at Romsey Mill, however I will continue to volunteer at my Monday group.”

“Earlier on, I mentioned about my dream of becoming a pilot. Thanks to the support I got at Romsey Mill, college and from my family, this has become a goal. I am excited to have begun my pilot training in October 2017.”




Ruth Watt, the Programme Coordinator for Aspire said:


“Having known Jack since he was ten and seeing how far he has come in those nine years has been a huge privilege. It has also demonstrated how important a long-term relational approach is to the support of children and young people who have autistic spectrum conditions.”


“People with autism can be smart, kind and funny, but often struggle to engage and show others these amazing characteristics. They need people who understand that extra patience and time is sometimes needed to help them get the best out of themselves and their relationships with others.”


“We couldn’t do this without our volunteers, so that’s why we are always happy to hear from anyone who would like to help in our youth clubs and be part of helping young people with autism start to fulfil their potential.”