Time spent helping autistic children in Ukraine leads to Young Citizen nomination for Barkingside volunteer

Nicole Mallin with children at the Chernihiv Medical Centre.

Nicole Mallin with children at the Chernihiv Medical Centre. - Credit: Archant

A trainee teacher, who is hoping to raise money for children with special needs after volunteering at a medical centre in Ukraine, has been nominated for the Recorder/Redbridge Rotary Club Young Citizen Award.

Nicole Mallin, 24, of Fencepiece Road, Barkingside, spent three weeks working at the Chernihiv Medical Centre alongside a team of eight, working one-to-one with children with autism.

She said: “During my stay, I visited families with young disabled children, taught some sessions and helped to decorate a new room at the centre. I got to know some of the families well, and bonded with them.

“The experience has helped me to recognise the importance of appreciating what I have and valuing the people who are there in my life. Friendship, support and kindness means so much more than material items.”

Nicole is planning to raise £500 for the centre with fellow volunteer Victoria Richie, before she returns in the summer.

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She said: “Money is so badly needed over there and after seeing how little they had, we decided to organise a fundraiser.

“When I got home, I realised how little I had missed so much of my stuff so decided I should sell it.”

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Nicole admits one of the hardest aspects of the trip was visiting some of the children’s homes and discovering the lack of facilities they had to help cope with their conditions, including a lack of wheelchair access.

She added: “I am so surprised I have been nominated for the award. I never thought I was doing anything special.”

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