Impact Case studies Thomas, Foyle Thomas is autistic and has found it difficult to make friends, speak to others and express his feelings. Thomas joined our ‘Together We Can’ project 12 months ago. "The Headliners course ran for four months but I don’t think I spoke more than four words in the first ten weeks. As my confidence grew so did my involvement. I wasn’t very interested in writing stories but I am a keen artist so Headliners allowed me to draw some illustrations for the stories other young people were writing. Very soon I started attending Headliners sessions every Saturday morning. While it is fun and interesting, the reason I attend every week is that I met many new friends. A lot of them even shared my interest in art and Manga in particular. My friends and I hang out after Headliners sessions finish most weekends. I simply can’t believe I stood up and told people all about how I designed the front cover. I would never have believed it had you asked me in week one of the project. At Headliners we went on to shoot some videos and even made a graphic novel using the ‘Comic Life’ computer programme. This proved to be a dream come true for me, an actual dream come true as I have been working on creating a graphic novel since I was 13. While I didn’t enjoy the writing exercises I am glad I stuck with Headliners as I enjoyed every other project, video, photography and audio recording. In fact even though I initially found it hard to speak for weeks, since joining Headliners I have spoken at public events on behalf of Headliners, secured a job placement with a graphic novel company and most importantly have lots of new friends I would not have met had I not attended the Foyle Bureau. I spoke at the launch event for our short story collection. I simply can’t believe I stood up and told people all about how I designed the front cover. I would never have believed it had you asked me in week one of the project. In fact had you asked me I might not have answered you at all. Now I am a youth leader in the group and help run the sessions. There is no way I would miss the Saturday Bureau now – even if they sometimes make me speak in public."