My typical day at work starts by arriving at the big blue doors of the Orpheus Centre. Next, the amazing and eager students of the ‘Apollo group’ start to arrive. Students who, until recently, wouldn’t have been able to cope with learning in a college environment, even one that’s as supportive and nurturing as Orpheus.

I love my job, and truly believe that what I do makes a difference… and here’s why.

As the tutor for the self-named ’Apollo group’ - because our students are always reaching up to the stars - my students have difficulties in communicating and often find it hard to express their thoughts and feelings. It’s the job of myself and my amazing team to help them find their voice and to give them the confidence and skills needed, to let their voice be heard loud and clear.

Students in the Orpheus Centre’s small Apollo group are a very special bunch with extra COIN needs. COIN stands for Communication and social interaction needs. Communication is vital for learning, social development and mental well-being. Every day I’m blown away by what they can achieve. Not only do they have to cope with the challenges faced by our other students, generally navigating the ups and downs of being a young adult and the stresses and anxieties that can bring. They also struggle with the fundamentals of communication. A skill which is so important in everyday life.

My team and I are here to help them to navigate this difficult journey. Through a range of skills learnt through specialised teaching practices, our students can learn to describe and express their feelings. They learn to listen. To share. To think deeper about what they think and feel and come up with ways to explain these thoughts to others.

This is something that many of us take for granted, but just take a moment to consider what it would be like to not be able to get your point across. Not to be listened to or for people to assume you have nothing important to say. Our Apollo group have a lot to say – they just need the extra encouragement and support to say it. And given the right opportunities our students can have the voice they deserve.

I find their potential inspiring. it's amazing to be able to see someone making a choice, an independent decision one day, who couldn't the day before. People shouldn't be identified by their needs or limitations and I truly believe that the students in our Apollo group have so much to say and so much to offer.