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Sonam is 25 years old and uses British Sign Language to communicate.

Growing up, she attended mainstream schools with specialist support units where she was confident and felt she received the support she needed. However, when she moved into mainstream college to do her Level 1 and 2 in Childcare, she lost her confidence. She became anxious and was left feeling isolated which increased the amount of epileptic fits she was already experiencing.

Sonam has since left college and in 2014, started to look for work but had still not found an opportunity to use her skills in childcare.

Sonam's Story:
I had spent 4 years looking for work and was worried that being deaf and epileptic meant I couldn't get a job. I did eventually find one but it wasn't a positive experience and they didn't offer any support or think about my health needs. I was always worried about what would happy if I had an epileptic fit. I am the only deaf person in my family so often felt very lonely at home. In 2014, I visited my local Job Centre and they contacted BID's Employment Service to see if they could offer me support in looking for work.

I came to see the Employment team and they suggested doing some voluntary work to help me become confident again and to gain more skills. I thought that was a good idea. It was lucky because the opportunity came up at BID to provide support at their weekly Youth Club. I have been here a year now and I am really happy. I come every Wednesday and I am always busy!

I help prepare the activities for Jo to use at the Youth Club with the children. I like learning new things and everybody here is very friendly and can sign with me. When I am here, the day goes very quick and sometimes, the staff have to remind me to stop and eat lunch. I have also volunteered at BID's Community Days where I have discovered something new that I am good at, which is to sell things!

I would like to get a job in the future but for now, I am happy here because my voluntary work here helps me to learn new things, and that will help me to get a job.

Quote from Jo, BID's Deaf Youth Participation Officer:

"Sonam is a brilliant support in the office, assisting with preparing materials for our Youth Club and general office tasks. Sonam has really grown in confidence, getting on with tasks independently and building positive relationships with staff. She is an asset to the team and we hope this voluntary experience will be a positive first step in her future career."