Social app Clubhouse hosts DMU students for Valentine Special event

By: Tracey Ugwueru

Students at De Montfort University in Leicester were able to put lockdown aside and still enjoy making new friends across the country for Valentine’s Day thanks to social app Clubhouse.

The Take Me Out event was set up by Halimat Ogundapo, the President of Kent University’s African-Caribbean Society, along with her peers.

The event usually takes place every year but because of COVID-19, they created a space on the App to virtually continue the event.

The idea was originally from Kent University but founder Halimat said: “The involvement of other unis was to increase engagement.

“We didn’t want the pandemic to stop us from letting it go ahead.”

A leaflet they produced and shared online carried the invite: “Join us for a virtual night of laughter and potential Love.”

The event took place on February 12 at 7.30pm and included other universities such as DMU, Leicester, Hull, Wolverhampton and Manchester, with more than 500 attendees. Students could join and leave at any time during the event.

The flyer for the event could be seen on the DMU WhatsApp App and on other social media platforms such as Snapchat, Instagram, and Twitter.

As a result, a large number of students from a range of different backgrounds and from all years interacted with each other, sharing numerous conversations about themselves and their interests.

Feedback from the students was positive, with people saying they enjoyed talking to other students and that the atmosphere was one to keep connected.

Couple launch crowdfunding bid to convert horse trailers into business bases for autistic people

By Sarah Danquah

A former DMU student has started crowdfunding with the aim of giving young people with autism the opportunity to build an independent business in a horse trailer.

Daniel Aitchison, 31, graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Youth Work and Community Development in 2011 and has worked with people with autism ever since.

Together with his wife Charlotte Aitchison, 29, he founded the Leicestershire respite service ‘Scramb Care – Specialist Care for Autism and Managing Behaviours’ in 2017.

They offer personal assistance, confidence building and social skill development among other services.

Now, they are trying to raise £4,000 to buy a horsebox trailer and to renovate it so that it can house a small business – so far, they have raised £1,417.

It is planned to give the future self-employed individuals basic skills to run a business, including financial management, marketing, communication and organisation.

“One of our boys wants to be a tattoo artist,” Daniel said.

These horseboxes can be converted to house a range of small independent businesses, such as hairdressers, or food sellers, and offer a small safe secure bubble for the individuals.

The Aitchisons have set up a Community Interest Company to run this new project, to give people with autism “the opportunity to build their own careers and businesses, based on their skills and interests.”

Originally, the project was supposed to be realised in a café where people with autism would get the chance to work – but the opening and shutting of shops during Lockdown posed a challenge to this idea.

According to statistics by Learning Disability Today only 32 per cent of autistic adults are in some kind of employment, even though more than 77 per cent want to work.

One possible reason, said Aitchison, might be that employers think they can’t provide the necessary support for people with autism at the workplace.

“We worked with so many people with autism and special needs that have just got to the end of their education where they just stopped because they can’t get access to a job,” explained Aitchison as reason and motivation for the Crowdfunder.

If you would like to donate to the project and their cause, you can do so by clicking the link before the crowdfunding deadline of Friday, March 12.