When AZ* was referred to Babbasa’s Support Programme, they reported significant experiences of social anxiety. His guardians knew he would benefit from tailored support to improve his self-confidence. In his first meeting AZ mentioned wanting to work with animals and that his love of exercise. AZ is on the Autistic Spectrum. This impacts his understanding of the world, how he relates to people, and his needs and preferences in terms of learning, environment, instructions, and how he approaches and his daily routines. Providing support that accommodated his needs was essential. AZ found it easier to focus on one task or subject at a time and preferred taking his time to process information.

Knowing all this meant that our Support Programme was able to tailor AZ’s support to work at his pace. Simple things like keeping to regular and consistent appointments with AZ helped create a strong foundation of trust. It also meant sharing topics that were going to be covered a week in advance. These may seem like obvious things, but consistency like this is what makes the Support Programme so effective for its young people.

All the activities AZ took part in included exercises to help reduce anxiety and make him his most confident self. During his guided sessions AZ was also asked to think about his skills, knowledge and qualities that he has that would make him a great person to work with animals. He also got the chance to explore the importance of exercise for maintaining good mental health, increasing confidence and reducing anxiety, which were very important reasons for his referral.

The programme helped AZ prepare for a virtual tour with City of Bristol College. He prepared some questions in advance of his meeting and we talked through some techniques for remaining calm and confident during the meeting. Since his time on the Support Programme, AZ has come a long way. He applied to become a volunteer for The Cinnamon Trust, a national fostering service for elderly or sick patients who need their dogs walking. AZ was also offered a provisional place on the Animal Care course at City of Bristol College for 2021. AZ has also taken on additional support for his mental health from other Bristol providers.

We’re very proud of AZ and the fantastic progress he has been making while on the Support Programme. When asked what advice he would give to other young people having a difficult time he said:
“Always talk to someone who you can trust and who will understand you and hear you out. Take a long walk, get some nice fresh air. See if you can even feed some ducks and pigeons […] Find a very peaceful quiet place and always have some thinking time.”

*AZ’s name has been changed for safeguarding reasons.


We believe Bristol’s most marginalised deserve access to support at their own pace; have their voices heard; and have access to real work opportunities.

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