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Autistic student secures NUS policy on life skills in landmark moment for North Wales college

Matthew Hayes
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A STUDENT with autism successfully passed a motion to ensure all college learners in Wales have access to Independent Living Skills (ILS).

In a landmark moment for Coleg Cambria, the motion put forward by Matthew Hayes, from Bryn y Baal, Mold, will become part of NUS Wales policy.

It is the first time a policy from the north east Wales college has been passed, to the delight of Matthew, who is Student Vice President at the college’s Northop site.

He said: “All students should have access to life skills, not just a select group of learners

“Whether it be domestic tasks, money handling, healthy eating, personal hygiene or mindfulness, these are things all young people need to know that will benefit them in their future lives.”

Matthew, also a Trusted Leader and Inclusivity Ambassador, added: “Far too often students go to college or university with no idea how to cook even basic meals, resulting in too many takeaways, which in turn adds to the current physical and mental health crisis.

“Often, these same students would have no idea how to pay their rent, budget for food or other necessities, even ironing their clothes.

“We acknowledge that in general terms basic living skills are often taught to students through parenting. However, this is assuming students’ parental circumstances are similar. Of course, this is often not the case, and that should be considered for all learners.”

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Matthew made the news last summer after creating hundreds of craft and art packages for children with learning difficulties and additional learning needs for the Flintshire-based charity DAFFODILS, during the first Coronavirus lockdown

His far-reaching proposal will now be incorporated into the campaign work of NUS Wales.

“I was shocked when I found out this is the first time Cambria had a motion put forward and passed to become NUS Wales policy, it’s a huge honour for me,” he said.

“From joining the college two years ago to becoming one of the first Student Vice Presidents with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) it’s amazing how much has happened – this is definitely one of the biggest highlights of my life.”

Cambria’s Chief Executive Yana Williams lauded Matthew for his efforts to bring about equality, not just at the college but across the country.

“To have our first motion passed is a privilege for the college, but more importantly it will make a huge difference to the lives of students all over Wales,” she said.

“We thank Matthew for bringing this issue to the fore and applaud him for using his platform as Student Vice-President to bring about real change.”

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