Orleia*, 16, first came to Mary's in April 2017 as part of LDN Youth (Westminster Society), a group which works with young people with additional needs. Initially she spent most of her time in The Zone, the drop-in provision of Mary's Youth Club. Like most young people she was most comfortable in the company of the staff and young people she already knew. Once more settled, Orleia got involved in Mary's Kitchen sessions and started to build relationships with staff in Mary's. Orleia attended a trip to activity centre Better Extreme in June without additional support staff from LDN youth, however, whilst comfortable with Mary's staff she hadn't yet built a strong rapport with the young people and was often on the edge of group activities.

Orleia has identified that her learning difficulties make it difficult for her to communicate in groups and with new people. Orleia continued attending Mary's and over the summer took part in volunteering opportunities with Volunteer Co-ordinator, Tony Tran. She has been an active member in the group mural project, painting a scene for the Pre-School area, and shared great creative talent with the group.

Orleia took part in the Monopoly Run challenge with other young people - although supported by a Mary's volunteer, they took a back seat, allowing Orleia to actively participate in group activities. Although Orleia sometimes felt a little overwhelmed by the rowdiness of group socialising, she enjoys being part of the group and has coping strategies to take herself away when necessary and rejoin the group with confidence, stating 'this is the best youth club I have ever been to'.

Orleia's volunteering over the summer enabled her to attend Mary's summer residential. Over the residential Orleia continued to establish herself in the group, with two young people taking her under their wing and enabling her to grow in confidence in expressing her opinions and trying new activities, such as canoeing and high ropes. She was initially terrified of aerial trekking due to the height, but with the support of instructor and group encouragement she made it all the way around the course. Despite initially thinking it would be too difficult for her to understand all the instructions, she also tried the quad bikes. She got fully involved in caving, and was one of only five people to complete the whole course.

Orleia would not usually have the opportunity to undertake such activities, and since she has returned her parents have noted how her confidence has grown. She is now attending college, studying hair and beauty.

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