Sam's Story

Sam found a fulfilling role where he makes a difference every day

Sam started work with Autism Initiatives in 2021. Based in Blackpool, Sam took on the specialist role of Local Health and Wellbeing Lead. This varied new role was funded by Walk for Autism, an annual campaign raising funds for autism projects across the UK and Ireland.

Before starting work at Autism Initiatives, Sam’s background was in sports. With a degree in Sports and personal training qualifications, Sam was looking to put his skills into practice in a rewarding new role.

Sam said:  “The opportunity met everything I was looking for and it fulfilled the rewarding side. I wanted to really make a difference to people.”

As Health and Wellbeing Lead, Sam is responsible for organising and leading wellbeing groups and projects, which are planned and tailored to individuals.  Sam’s manager, Carrie Gill shared that Sam’s warm personality and caring nature shone from the beginning of his role. The ability to listen to people is at the heart of this role and helps to shape the approach to health and wellbeing.

Sam had some general knowledge of autism prior to the role, but quickly developed his skills with a personalised induction and Core Skills training. Additionally, Sam spent valuable time getting to know the autistic people that we work alongside and building rapport with them.

Sam shared:  “The role is more varied than I expected. Seeing the thanks you get and seeing the people enjoy the groups shows how much of an impact it has.”

Over the past year, Sam has been able to make the role his own by listening to the people he works with. One of his biggest successes is setting up a football group in his local area, which now has over eight people attending regularly and more coming along to watch.  Sam has encouraged the people taking part to take ownership of the football group. One individual has taken the lead by designing the football kit, and others have developed their confidence by stepping into leadership positions.

Sam said: “The best part of my role is the change we see in people. The groups give people something to look forward to and massively benefit mental and physical wellbeing.”

As an exciting day out, the group recently visited Tranmere’s football pitch to watch a game, which was a memorable experience for everybody.

One person who attended the day out said: “Sam is just so natural with people, he just puts everyone at ease. The event was about more than just the football, it was competitive to make it enjoyable, but you could see that wasn’t just the point, it was just about everyone having a nice time. He’s such a nice person and you can see that it’s real.”

As part of his role, Sam has organised a range of days out, which are thoughtfully tailored to individual interests. This has included a trip to Harry Potter filming location, Malham Cove, and a model plane museum. The trips encourage individuals to share their interests with the rest of the group and show people that their voices are listened to.

As Health and Wellbeing Lead, Sam is continuing to focus on enhancing quality of life. The projects he leads for autistic people encourage individuals to feel a sense of belonging and feel pride in taking ownership that they didn’t have before.

Sam shared: “The more funds raised from campaigns like Walk for Autism, the more there is available for people. We’re able to plan groups that are needed and make such a difference to individuals. More roles like mine would allow us to do even more.”

The future of Sam’s role looks more varied than ever. Sam has plans to take on further training in gardening, wildfire skills and even plan a camping trip. Sam hopes that as his role continues to grow, he’ll be able to link wellbeing groups together across the UK.

Sam added: “It’s great having a career where you see the things you do make a positive difference each day. I feel valued by Autism Initiatives and am so glad I took up this position.”

If you’re looking for a rewarding role like Sam’s and feel you could make a difference, check out our job search for vacancies in your area.

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