Your Name: Max Simpson
Job Title: Founder and Vocational Programme Coordinator, Steps with Theera
What is your nationality and background?
I am from the UK where I worked with young people with special educational needs in a variety of settings. I have been in Bangkok for 4 years as the deputy head of a special needs school until recently, and now my partner and I are starting a social enterprise.
What is your profession?
Founder of Steps with Theera
What are the key skills and responsibilities of this role?
I think the most important part of my role is helping the young people we work with learn to self advocate and where they are unable, to advocate for them. Offering support to the families we work with is also of huge importance and something we ensure we always have time for.
How did you get involved in your profession?
My brother has autism so growing up I experienced the difficulties families and the young person face. This insight made me passionate from an early age that as a society, we should be doing more to support young people with special needs.
How does your role enhance the wellbeing or experience of children?
We treat the young adults we work with as people and listen to their voice. They have ideas and desires just as everyone else does and their opinion matters. We help prepare them for the transition to employment, adulthood and independence by running a life skills programme alongside a work based learning programme in our coffee shop.
What challenges do your face in this role?
I think the main challenge is breaking down the barriers surrounding special needs. We want to show people how able these young adults are and work with the community to evoke change.
What do you hope to achieve within your industry?
We hope to create a safe space within the community for everyone, no matter who you are. We want to provide the young people in our programme the skills to seek employment and we are working in the community to find work placements for them after they have completed our programme.
Who or what inspires you?
The young people we work with inspire me. The difficulties they can face in so many capacities are beyond our understanding yet they are determined, strong, dedicated and smiling.
Only a Bangkok local would know…
If you have an hour to spare, go and visit Dialogue in the Dark, a blind experience which raises awareness of visual impairments.