Support workers Neil Palmer and Rachel Schmitz have won the financial backing of coffee chain Starbucks’ Youth Action programme to re-launch Watford Mencap’s youth club for young people with learning disabilities.

The club, known as Hand in Hand, provides a range of activities for people aged 13-19 who otherwise have few opportunities to learn new skills or simply chill out with their friends.

Rachel and Neil fought off stiff competition from other projects bidding for the support and had to give a presentation detailing their plans for the re-launch. 

Neil, 24, said: "It was quite scary having to stand up in front of a panel and tell them about our plans.  But I am so passionate about the work we do at Hand in Hand that I’d do anything to make sure young people with a learning disability know we are there for them". 

Hand in Hand meets every Friday night during term-time and it offers a  range of activities for young people and provides support to the families of the young people who attend. 

The staff are trained in supporting the young people whatever their disability.

Rachel, also 24, said: "Now that we have secured the funds we plan to re-vamp the room and then ask our youth club members to think up a new name for the club and design a new logo.

"We’re also planning to visit local schools for pupils with special needs to tell them about our club and invite them along for taster sessions.  I can’t wait to get cracking."

If you know a young person with a learning disability who might like to try out Hand in Hand contact the club on 01923 220816.

Watford Mencap is always keen to hear from people who would like to work or volunteer for them. If you would like more information visit or call 01923 713620.

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