From short breaks to Britain's Got Talent: Helping Carmela shine
Growing up, Carmela loved her time attending an Action for Children short breaks service in Northampton. Now, this inspiring young woman is volunteering at the service that helped her so much and shining on the Britain's Got Talent stage
Carmela, 23, has an infectious laugh that can light up any room. She lives in Northampton with her mum Gill, dad Michael, sisters Emilia and Alicia and their four cockapoos.
Carmela has a learning disability and attended SEND Northampton Community Short Breaks for over five years. This Action for Children service provides a safe space where children and young people with special education needs and disabilities can socialise and make new friends.
The service helped grow Carmela's confidence - and it shows. Not only has she made the leap to volunteering with Action for Children, she's now appearing on Britain's Got Talent with her local dance school, Born to Perform.
For the past five years, Carmela’s regular routine involved attending our short breaks service once a week. It was a real source of comfort, especially during stressful periods. Carmela explained, “Lockdown was hard because I missed seeing everyone, but the online stuff was good. They set up activity games like bingo, which I really liked.”
When talking about her time at the group, Carmela said, “I’ve done quite a lot there - I do crafting, cooking, movie nights and playing sports. I really love it.”
“We also have a therapy dog come to visit sometimes. I especially like crafting and making things for Mother’s Day, Christmas, Easter, birthdays and Valentine’s Day. Last time I cooked there we did fajitas, pizzas and cooking for Chinese New Year. They all liked it, which was good.”
“It’s made meeting new people a lot easier and given me lots more confidence.”Carmela
More than just a space to hang out, the service has allowed Carmela to build her independence and confidence by trying new activities in a positive environment.
“Everyone there has been really nice and made me feel welcomed,” Carmela said. “It’s made meeting new people a lot easier and given me lots more confidence.”
It’s something the people around her can see too. They’ve noticed how she’s grown and changed over the past five years. Gill told us, “She got to gradually meet more people over time and got to know the staff really well, which made her more confident. It’s been really good for her mental health and made her feel happy.”
This is apparent in other areas of Carmela's life too. She has overcome her fear of being on stage with a local inclusive dance group – Born to Perform. Now, Carmela and Born to Perform will get the recognition they deserve, being featured on Britain's Got Talent!
It’s been really good for her mental health and made her feel happy.Gill, Carmela's mum
Carmela is excited about her new journey as a volunteer in the service that’s so important to her.
“I like helping them out, and I’m excited to start doing activities with all the new kids and make them feel welcomed too.”
Carmela’s bursting with ideas of what she could do in her role too. “There's loads I want to do there,” she said. “I love playing board games and playing rounders in the summer, so it will be good to get everyone involved.”
Mum Gill is also looking forward to Carmela getting stuck into a new challenge. “Carmela really struggles with money,” she said. “Doing the tuck shop will be good for her, because she'll be handling the money, learning how much things cost and giving the change out. A bit of responsibility will be really good for her.
“I think it’s changed in her mindset that she’s now going to be there as an adult and a volunteer."
It’s a big next step for her, and it's so nice for her to have that opportunity.Gill
Right now, Action for Children support is a lifeline to thousands of families across the UK. But there are so many more children who need us to be there. We can reach them, with your help.
Every child deserves a bright future. Together, we have the power to help children overcome abuse and neglect, poverty and poor mental health.