Since completing the Young enabling Wales project, I have gained some incredible experiences. My campaign work has been fruitful and I have become an accomplished spokesperson (something which I never thought possible in the past). The skills and knowledge I learned from the enabling Wales course has make an immeasurable difference to my work and confidence. In October 2016 I was awarded a Welsh government award for making a difference, which really allowed me to see how my work has impacted Wales.
Campaigning involves working with many different organisations to be effective and get positive outcomes, I have done many media interviews, I have written an article about living with Asperger’s syndrome for the website ‘Buzzfeed’ (available on BuzzfeedUK’s website under the title ‘9 things people don’t tell you about living with Asperger’s’), and I have spoken at numerous conferences, including Cerebra’s annual conference at the Royal Society of Medicine (video available to watch on Cerebra Charity Youtube page, titled Mair Elliott), Welsh Government’s Together for Children and Young people annual conference and I have spoken at House of Lords reception recently. Other public speaking events I have spoken at include the Welsh NHS confederation annual conference and in a few weeks the Welsh ALN conference.
I am a research champion for Cardiff University’s National Centre for Mental Health, this position involves promoting the research being conducted in the centre and encouraging people to volunteer to take part in the research. I am also a proud Trustee of Wales’ largest mental health charity; Hafal. Hafal is a charity that is close to my heart because it provides care to those who are often overlooked; people with serious mental illness. Being able to help, by working with my colleagues on the board of trustees, is priceless.
I have co-written a report on the mental health of children and young people in Wales called MakingSense (available on Hafal’s website under ‘Hafal and young people’). The report has been widely endorsed, including by Welsh Government. I am also a member of the expert reference group for Together for Children and Young people, an initiative set up by welsh government to improve child and adolescent mental health services in Wales.
On a personal note, I travelled around Canada for 6 weeks last summer, and I am doing a college course this year with the aim of going to university to study Neuroscience. I am looking forward to doing more campaign work in the future, and I hope that I can empower other people, with disabilities or not, to stand up and fight for what they believe in also.