Christmas is a busy, many might say absorbing time of year and it can be easy to forget those less fortunate than ourselves. This year at Gina Conway we decided to fund raise for charities who work tirelessly for others, not just at Christmas but all the year round.
My 21 year old nephew Emilio has Global Development Delay (GDD) and over the years has benefited greatly from his association with The Harington Scheme, a unique programme for young adults with learning difficulties. It has also been a lifeline for my sister, offering her support and encouragement – and a well-needed break from the routine of daily life.
So when salon manager, Hannah, asked the team at our Wimbledon location to choose our charity, this was my immediate choice. I was initially hesitant about putting it forward, as whilst it is very close to the hearts of my family, it is not as well known as some of the charities we have supported in the past.
I was surprised and delighted when our team, knowing the difference it had made to Emilio’s life, were all keen to support it.
Emilio was diagnosed with GDD at a young age and also suffers from phobias and finds certain situations overwhelming. Over the years The Harington Scheme has improved his confidence, allowing him to meet and make friends and have some of the autonomy we take for granted which is often denied him in daily life. He spent whole days at the centre learning therapeutic and calming skills such as gardening and we as a family have found it heart-warming that he found an environment he could thrive in.
I always remember one particularly moving moment when a boy with a speech difficulties overcame his impediment to speak at the end of year ceremony – such an achievement for him; the volunteers there really do make a difference to the lives of these young people.
I know every contribution is appreciated and I am proud to say I work for a company which cares and gives back.
by Kliff Stephanou, Artistic Director at Gina Conway, Wimbledon