An update on our Six Month Academy mentee Marni Smyth, and why you should donate to SMA Support UK

Back in August 2015 we launched the Six Month Academy, a mentoring scheme, which we created in partnership with SMA Support UK. Out of all the applicants, we picked design student Marni Smyth to be our first mentee, and since then she’s been working on a number of projects across Disability Horizons and Accomable. As it’s now 5 months into Marni’s mentorship, we thought we’d catch up with her and find out a little bit more about SMA Support UK and the wonderful work that they do.

In 1985, Anita Macaulay set up the ‘Jennifer Trust for Spinal Muscular Atrophy’ after her daughter Jennifer died aged just 7 months, after being diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy Type 1. At the time of Jennifer’s death, there was very little information available for parents whose children were born with the condition, and Anita was determined to change this and offer support to other parents. Over time, The Jennifer Trust became the biggest and most trusted charity for Spinal Muscular Atrophy support, and offered a wide range of guidance and impartial advice to individuals and families affected by SMA. Now known as SMA Support UK, the charity continues to inform, support and empower families and individuals affected by all form of SMA, raise awareness of the condition and is determined to continue to support families and individuals into the future.

Marni, like Disability Horizons co-founder Martyn Sibley, has been attending SMA Support UK conferences since she was a child, and is glad that the charity has always been there for her when she needs it. Like many charities however, SMA Support UK wouldn’t be able to continue without the help of its supporters. The charity relies on money raised through a wide range of fundraising initiatives, as well as one-off donations from members of the public, in order to continue its work. And with so many charities in need of support, it can be even harder for smaller, more niche charities like SMA Support UK to get the money it needs to survive. So if you are able to help in any small way, whether you know anyone affected by SMA or not, then please consider making a one-off or regular donation, or look into getting involved in fundraising activities in your area. Information about making a donation can be found on their website here, while information about fundraising can be found here.

Since Marni began her mentorship back in October 2015, she has been working hard with the team at Accomable, in order to uncover accessible properties all around the world. Marni told us she’s been finding this online research an enjoyable process, but the trouble is, she now wants to go on holiday all the time! As a result, she’s been forwarding a lot of the properties to her dad in the hope of giving him ‘inspiration’ and she’s been finding a lot of villas and apartments in places that she never considered would be accessible to disabled people.

Working for Accomable isn’t all that Marni’s been up to these past five months though, oh no! She’s also been very busy with her university work, and since October, not only has she completed her dissertation, she’s also been preparing for her 12-week end of year show, all of which shows you just how determined she is to progress in her career and make the most of every opportunity that she is given. So here’s to the last month of her mentorship!

If you, or your family has been affected by SMA, please get in touch with SMA Support UK on 01789 267520 or contact our support services by filling in the query form here.

If you would like to donate money to SMA Support UK or fundraise on our behalf, then you can find out more information here.

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