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Radlett Lodge School calls for volunteers

 Published on: 20th October 2017   |   By: The Newsdesk   |   Category:

Paul and Bus Source National Autistic SocietyA local school for children and young people with autism is looking for volunteers to drive the school minibus on days out. Radlett Lodge School is run by the National Autistic Society (NAS) and supports 55 pupils with autism, aged four to 19 years. The staff work hard to prepare the students for adult life and try to take them out on day trips in the school minibus as often as possible so they can experience the outside world and improve their social skills. But these trips are often dependent on the availability of volunteer drivers as the teachers and classroom assistants need to be free to support the students during the journey. A couple of local people already help out, and the school is looking for additional volunteers so that more students can enjoy days out. 56 year-old Paul Stewart, from Radlett, has been driving the minibus for four hours a week for the past two-and-a-half years. He said: “Volunteering for Radlett Lodge has opened my eyes to the challenges faced by children and young people with autism, but also allowed me to experience the fun of working with such unique individuals. The students often make me laugh and make me feel that I am making a positive contribution; they sometimes make me ‘Thank You’, ‘birthday’, or ‘Christmas’ cards, which I find very touching. “I also really enjoy driving so volunteering is never a chore and, because I live so close to the school, it’s convenient too.” “I would recommend volunteering to anyone, no matter how much time you can provide. It’s always appreciated and is hugely rewarding as one can witness directly the positive impact it has on the students.” Jo Galloway, Principal of the school, said: “Autism affects how a person communicates with and relates to other people, and means that many of the children and young people we support find it hard to make sense of the world. Everyday social situations like buying a train ticket or making small talk can be confusing and even frightening, often leaving them feeling isolated. “But taking our students out into the local community and encouraging them to interact with others helps them to understand everyday social situations and learn new social skills. “We’re so fortunate to have a minibus to take them out, but rely on a small but dedicated group of volunteers to drive the students. We’re currently looking for more volunteers so, if anyone is interested, whether it’s for a couple of hours a week or more, please get in touch. “Full autism training will be provided by the school so volunteers don’t need to know much about the condition prior to applying. They just need to be keen to help out and have a relevant driving licence. A small amount of time can make a huge difference.” If you’re interested in volunteering, please contact Marina Quinn at Marina.Quinn@nas.org.uk

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